Rice defends tough anti-terror drive in Pakistan
Rice would not comment on the reported deaths of 18 villagers in a raid said to target Osama bin Laden's deputy.india Updated: Jan 16, 2006 19:26 IST
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday defended tough US tactics to root out Al-Qaedaterrorists on Pakistan's border after a deadly air strike on a village sparked a wave of angry street protests.
Rice would not comment on the reported deaths of 18 villagers in a raid said to target Osama bin Laden's deputy. She said only, "We'll continue to work with the Pakistanis and we'll try to address their concerns."
But speaking to reporters en route to Liberia for the inauguration of president-elect Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Rice made no apologies for US actions against suspected Al-Qaeda forces near the border with Afghanistan.
"It's obviously difficult at this time for the Pakistani government," she said of the attack that sent thousands of Pakistanis into the streets in at least five cities and prompted an official protest from Islamabad.
"But I think I would just say, to both the Pakistani government and the Pakistani people, we're allies in the war on terror," Rice said, adding Al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies "are not people who can be dealt with lightly."
"The biggest threat to Pakistan, of course, is what Al-Qaeda has done in trying to radicalise the country, the extremist elements that really occupy ... Parts of the country in important ways, (and) tried twice to assassinate President (Pervez) Musharraf."
Asked about Friday's strike reportedly carried out by a missile-firing US Predator drone in hopes of killing Al-Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri, Rice said, "I can't speak to the specifics of this particular circumstance.