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Aziz Rumsfeld meet amid airstrike tension

The US Secretary of Defence expressed great respect for President Musharraf after discussions with the Pakistan PM.

india Updated: Jan 24, 2006 12:51 IST

Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld expressed great respect for Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Monday after discussions with the country's Prime Minister on a range of issues.

During a brief encounter with reporters, Rumsfeld declined to provide details of his meeting with Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, although it seemed certain that they discussed US-Pakistani tensions resulting from a deadly incident last week near the Afghan-Pakistani border.

"We're delighted that the prime minister was able to come by," Rumsfeld said, expressing great respect for him and Musharraf as well.

Rumseld noted that Aziz has a meeting with President George W Bush on Tuesday.

In recent days, thousands of Pakistanis have been demonstrating to denounce a US airstrike on January 13 that killed Pakistani civilians.

Later Monday, Aziz appeared before US businessmen and discussed the investment climate in his country.

Touting business opportunities in Pakistan, Aziz said foreign investors are reaping 30 to 50 per cent profit increases annually and "laughing all the way to the bank."

He said foreign businesses invested $3 billion last year, up from $1.5 billion in 2004. "We think there can be much more," Aziz said. He added that these companies are doing well because the Pakistani middle class is spending more.

"There are no sweetheart deals any more," Aziz said. "Everything is transparent."

Aziz made no reference to US-Pakistani relations during his 45-minute appearance at the US Chamber of Commerce.

Presidential adviser Dan Bartlett on Monday defended the way America fights Al-Qaeda in Pakistan.

"It's a tough part of the world; it's hard to access; it's hard to penetrate," Bartlett told Fox News. "And when we do, it's important that we be able to strike on the offense, and that's something we'll continue to attempt to do."

Relations between Islamabad and Washington have deteriorated since the attack, which killed at least 13 civilians, including women and children. Anti-American rallies in Pakistan are entering their second week.

First Published: Jan 24, 2006 12:34 IST