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Pakistan president sees 'war' against Taliban

Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari describes his country's offensive against the Taliban, and pledges to mount an all-out war against the extremists. Factbox

world Updated: May 09, 2009 07:55 IST

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari pledged Friday to mount an all-out war against Taliban extremists, pledging to kill the militants in a military offensive.

"This is an offensive -- this is war. If they kill our soldiers, then we do the same," Zardari told PBS public television on a visit to Washington.

Pressed on whether Pakistan's stated goal of "eliminating" militants meant killing them, Zardari replied in the affirmative.

"Eliminate means exactly what it means," he said.http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/images/090509/ZARDARI.jpg

Warplanes were bombed rebel hideouts in the Swat valley where up to 15,000 security forces are deployed under orders to wipe out extremists.

The military said that more than 140 militants were killed. People fleeing the area, however, have accused the military of also killing civilians in the fierce bombardment.

Zardari was in Washington for talks with President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai on stepping up the fight against extremists seen as a growing threat in both countries.

Zardari also said that Pakistan has shifted an unspecified number of troops from its border with India to take part in the operation against Pakistan.

"We have already done so," Zardari said when asked why Pakistan would not move troops from the eastern front.

Zardari renewed his pledge to work for better relations with India, with which Pakistan has fought three full-fledged wars since the two countries' separation at birth in 1947.

"I've always considered India a neighbor which we want to improve our relationship with," Zardari said.

"We've had some cold times and we've had some hot times with them but democracies are always trying to improve relationships," he said.