Musharraf raises K-word, Bush dumps N-talk
There appeared to have been some hard talks between the two presidents. The body language said it all.Updated: Mar 04, 2006 16:22 IST
In a blunt rejection of Pakistan's demand for a civilian nuclear deal on the lines he clinched with India, US President George W Bush on Saturday said the two countries had different needs and different histories.
After discussions with President Pervez Musharraf here, the US leader was asked by reporters whether Washington would have with energy-deficient Pakistan a nuclear deal similar to the one he had reached with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi two days ago.
With Musharraf standing by his side, Bush stated in unambiguous terms that "Pakistan and India are different countries with different needs and different histories".
Bush's South Asia sojourn
March 1: In Afghanistan
|March 4: In Pakistan|
The US President's reference to "different histories" was an obvious reference to the track record of India and Pakistan in the nuclear field.
Washington has maintained that India is a responsible nuclear power in contrast to Pakistan's clandestine help in this sphere to some countries highlighted by the actions of its top scientist AQ Khan, now under house arrest.
On Musharraf seeking US involvement in facilitating the resolution of Kashmir and other issues, Bush refused to be drawn into it saying the "best way" for doing so was for leaders of the two countries to "step up and lead".
Bush refuses to mediate on Kashmir issue
"The best way for Kashmir to be resolved is for the leaders of both countries to step up and lead, and that's exactly what President Musharraf has done and that's what Prime Minister Singh has assured me he wants to do," he said.
He made it clear that the role of the US was to continue to encourage the parties concerned to come together to resolve the contentious issue.
"The atmosphere is changing," he said noting that the confidence-building measures taken by the two countries have begun to bear fruit. He also referred to India's prompt help to earthquake victims in Pakistan.
Condemning Thursday's suicide attack in Karachi in which an American diplomat was killed, Bush said, "we have to fight the war on terror together."
Addressing the joint press conference, Musharraf said "I referred to Kashmir and requested him to remain involved for facilitating resolution of all issues including Kashmir to bring peace in the region."
On strategic relationship with Pak
Musharraf said Pakistan and the US have decided to institutionalise their strategic relationship. "We laid the foundations of a strong, sustainable, broadbased long-term relationship. This includes, first of all, commencing commencing the US-Pakistan strategic dialogue in an institionalised manner," he said.
The dialogue will include defence relations, cooperation against the fight against terrorism and resolution of all disputes in the region including Kashmir, he said.
Bush said the role of US was to continue to encourage the parties to come together to resolve the Kashmir issue.
The best way for Kashmir to be resolved is for leaders of both the countries to step up and lead, he said adding the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) taken by the two countries have begun to bear fruit.
"The atmosphere is changing," Bush said noting that there were increased trade and people-to-people contacts now. He also recalled how India helped Pakistan during last year's earthquake.
On terrorism, the US leader said that the two countries were working to strengthen the lasting partnership to fight terror especially lauding Pakistan's role after the 9/11 attack.
He also condemened the attack in which a US foreign service official died and said this showed that the war on terror continued.
"We have to fight the war together and Pakistan will be playing an important role in this," he said.
The Pakistan President also expressed extreme gratitude to President Bush for assistance in the earthquake relief work.
He said, "I don't think without US assistance we could have met the challenges of the reconstruction after the earthquake."
Bush said that his visit to Pakistan has consolidated the resolve to fight against terrorism.
Earlier, Bush and Musharraf held a one-on-one meeting to discuss various issues including Islamabad's role in the war on terror.
Bush, who arrived in Pakistan late on Friday, started his official engagements with a reception at the Presidency where he was presented a guard of honour.
Talking to reporters before the US president’s arrival, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri said Pakistan and United States had cordial relations which would strengthen with the visit.
The foreign minister said that after the 9/11 attacks, the relations between Pakistan and United States had become more important.
Kasuri expressed the hope that President Bush’s visit would open news avenues of cooperation between the two countries
Bush, according to sources, is expected to call for greater efforts against terrorism, even as hundreds protested across the country against the visit.
Bush, who flew in from India to the military airbase in nearby Rawalpindi aboard Air Force One, was received at the airport by Kurshid and his wife and flown to the Presidency where is staying.
No television channel was allowed to telecast his arrival live. All cellular phones around the military airbase were jammed.
A three-tier security cordon was laid for the US president and First Lady Laura Bush. Army commandos, snipers and US Marines were part of the cordon.
Protests against Bush visit
Some opposition parties have said they will hold rallies Saturday to protest Bush's visit.
Tehreek-e-Insaaf chief Imran Khan announced that Saturday would be observed as a black day and rallies would be taken out. The, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, an alliance of six Islamic parties, supported his call.
However, other political parties have decided not to support Khan.
Protests were held across Pakistan on Friday with crowds burning American flags, chanting "Death to Bush!" and scuffling with police shortly before his arrival.
In Karachi, where a bomb blast near the US consulate on Thursday killed four people including a US diplomat, police used tear gas and batons to disperse demonstrators.
Police had to use batons to break up a huge crowd that gathered on a major road near where Bush's plane landed.