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No 'good' or 'bad' terrorist, Aziz tells Bush

The US President met Shaukat Aziz at the Oval Office on the Pakistan Prime Minister's first ever visit to the White House.

india Updated: Jan 25, 2006 15:23 IST

Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz has told US President George W Bush that Islamabad wants all conflicts, including Kashmir, resolved in the subcontinent and conceded there was no such thing as a "bad" or "good" terrorist.

Bush met Aziz on Tuesday morning at the Oval Office on the Pakistan Prime Minister's first ever visit to the White House.

Aziz said South Asia had many issues and challenges and Pakistan was trying to pursue peace with its neighbours.

"We want a solution of all disputes, including the Kashmir dispute. We want to see a strong, stable Afghanistan. We are against proliferation of nuclear weapons by anybody. And we want to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

"There is no good terrorist or bad terrorist, and terrorism knows no borders," Aziz said.

For years now, Pakistan has tried to portray terrorists in Kashmir as freedom fighters, much to India's chagrin.

But with Washington taking a hard line post-9/11 that any freedom fighters using violence would be classified as terrorists, and successfully getting this definition incorporated in United Nations documents along with India, this has become an untenable position for President Pervez Musharraf and his government.

Aziz and Bush talked about the importance of trade and commerce and investment, the global response to the October 8 earthquake and the resulting devastation and death of over 80,000 people.

Aziz acknowledged the level of assistance in the form of Chinook helicopters, MASH hospitals, engineers and financial assistance.

The help "has touched the hearts and minds of all Pakistanis -- and including your private sector and civil society", Aziz said, adding, "A sense of caring and sharing always builds a better relationship between countries. And that's what we are seeing between Pakistan and the United States."

As Musharraf fights off public condemnation for alleged US incursions into Pakistani territories to fight against Al-Qaeda elements, he requires US backing even more.

However, at the meeting, Aziz spoke of a "multifaceted relationship" between the two countries and said the discussions covered economic, trade and investment issues. "We are very keen to expand that. Pakistan has a growing economy, and US investors can take part in this growth," Aziz said.

Even as tremendous security concerns are dogging Bush's security force when he travels to India and Pakistan in March, Aziz emphasised that the people of Pakistan were looking forward to Bush's visit "... because we think that this is an important visit for building relations further between our two countries and serving the cause of peace in the world".

Bush said relations with Pakistan were "vital" to the US and for defeating terrorists. "We have just had a wide-ranging discussion, which one should expect when we've got a strategic relationship like we have with Pakistan."

Bush, in a continuing attempt to win the hearts and minds of Muslims around the world, emphasised the level of aid the US gave to Pakistan.

"I was very pleased that the United States, our taxpayers, our military could contribute to helping the people of Pakistan recover. They are our friends, and we consider this friendship to be a vital friendship for keeping the peace," Bush said.

First Published: Jan 25, 2006 12:46 IST