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US welcomes Pak measures, doesn't confirm arrests

world Updated: Dec 10, 2008 10:06 IST
US welcomes Pakistan measures

Describing terrorism as a "real" threat to improving relations between India and Pakistan, US has welcomed Islamabad's action against militant groups following the Mumbai attacks, but stopped short of confirming details of reported arrests.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice maintained that these non-state actors "clearly used the Pakistani territory" for the Mumbai strikes and Pakistan had a responsibility to act against them.

"The civilian government in Pakistan, a new civilian government that wants to do the right thing. And in fact, I believe they have begun to do some of the right things," Rice said in an interview with CBS Radio.

"We are still gathering reports. Were not yet able to confirm a lot of what we are reading about arrests and about action against the camps, but these are serious steps, and we are pleased at what appears to be a serious set of steps," she added.

Noting that Pakistan too has been a victim of terrorism, Rice said, "I want to emphasise, Pakistan is doing this in its own interest as well, because Pakistan has suffered greatly from terrorism. And of course, President Zardari lost his great wife, Benazir Bhutto, to the terrorists."

"We have not yet confirmed them. We have been told about some of them. I do believe something very important is going on here, but I dont want to have to speak to the details at this point," Rice said.

She said the motive of the perpetrators of the Mumbai carnage was to "stir up trouble" between the nuclear armed neighbours, who had achieved marked improvement in their bilateral ties.

"These terrorists are undoubtedly unnerved by the increasingly good relations between Pakistan and India, really going back before the civilian government but certainly since President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani came into power," Rice said.

The top Bush administration official said, "In fact, the Pakistani Foreign Minister was actually in India for a strategic dialogue during when this attack took place. And so clearly, those who want to disrupt good relations between India and Pakistan were at root."

"It has the side benefit, of course, of making certain that Pakistan remains focused on the old conflict with India and Pakistan, which I believe can be resolved effectively between the parties, rather than on the real threat to Pakistan and Pakistans neighbours, which is the terrorist threat," Rice added.

Asked to comment on whether the Mumbai terror strikes were to take pressure off Al-Qaeda, Rice said, "I dont know. We know ethat bad people tend to travel in the same circles. Nobody is making a claim here that Al-Qaeda is responsible for these attacks or that perhaps they were even involved in them in any way, but ties between these kinds of groups are pretty common."

"I dont know that it was to take pressure off Al-Qaeda, but clearly, if Pakistan cannot focus on what is the real threat to Pakistan, which is the terrorist threat, and remains focused on a state-to-state threat that is beginning to subside, then it benefits the terrorists. And I believe that the Pakistani Government understands that, the Pakistani military understands that. And this is a very important moment for Pakistan to respond," Rice added.

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