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Bush urges Musharraf to release detainees: White House

world Updated: Nov 06, 2007 04:57 IST

Reuters
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US President George W Bush is urging Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to quickly return to civilian rule and release people detained under an emergency decree, the White House said on Monday.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters that the US government was "deeply disturbed" by Musharraf's imposition of emergency rule on Saturday.

Bush was expected to make his first public comments on the Pakistan situation after holding White House talks with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan starting at 1815 GMT, White House officials said.

Musharraf's action dealt a sharp blow to the Bush administration, which had appealed to him not to declare emergency rule.

"We cannot support emergency rule or the extreme measures taken during the emergency," Perino said. "Such actions are not in Pakistan's best interest and damage the progress Pakistan has made on its path to democracy."

"The president and his advisers ... right now are urging him to quickly return to civilian rule, to get back on the path of democracy, to restore the freedoms of the press as well as release detainees," she said. "The president continues to urge calm on all of the parties."

Police have detained hundreds of lawyers and political activists angry at his imposition of emergency rule. Musharraf cited spiraling militancy and hostile judges to justify Saturday's action, and slapped reporting curbs on the media in a bid to stop outrage spilling onto the streets.