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Pakistan leaders vote to help fight terrorism

Musharraf
On Saturday, Musharraf said Pakistan would "help the international community fight terrorism."  


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (CNN) -- As President Bush prepared to huddle again with his national security advisers, the government of Pakistan signaled Saturday it is willing to fulfill its pledge to "fully cooperate" with the United States in its war against those responsible for the World Trade Center and Pentagon terror attacks.

During a meeting with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani cabinet and security council voted unanimously to "help the international community fight terrorism." A spokesman said the government would immediately "hold consultations with the Pakistani people" to build a consensus for the decision.

The United States has given the Pakistan government a "wish list" of actions it wants Pakistan to take. Included on that list is allowing, if requested, U.S. warplanes access to Pakistani airspace.

"We are responding to the call of the international community in helping to see what we can do," said the Pakistani ambassador to the United States, Maleeha Lodhi. "We want to try to use the diplomatic option before more extreme ways to deal with the situation."

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Statement from Pakistani leader Pervez Musharraf  
 

Lodhi said Pakistan would extend its "fullest cooperation" to bring the menace of terrorism to an end.

"There is no way we can deal with this monster unless the world is united on this," she said.

The Pakistani diplomat refused to give specific conditions on Pakistan's cooperation with the United States, saying, "This is not a time to nickel and dime on these issues."

But she said that there is the expectation for the "friends" of Pakistan to help it manage the long-term risks. "My country has been through a difficult economic period, and we certainly expect our friends to help us through our economic difficulties."

The ruling Taliban government of Afghanistan threatened any neighboring country that allows its soil to be used to help the United States stage an attack on Afghanistan.

"If neighboring or regional countries, particularly Islamic countries, give a positive response to American demand for military bases, it would spark up extraordinary danger," said Taliban spokesman Sohail Shaheen in Islamabad.

"Similarly, if any neighboring country gives territorial way or airspace to U.S.A. against our land, it would draw us into an imposed war."

There is widespread fear in Afghanistan that the United States will attack Afghanistan because suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden is said to be living as a "guest" in that country.

On Friday, Secretary of State Colin Powell told Arab leaders from 15 nations to decide if they will stand with the United States or risk isolation.

Amr Moussa, the Arab League secretary general, said Arab nations stand with the United States but need to be consulted on what action the United States plans to take.

"The Arab nations do stand with President Bush, with the U.S. All countries are against international terrorism. We are very clear that we do reject any international crime of terrorism anywhere, and in particular what happened a couple days ago in the United States," said Moussa.

"We do understand and appreciate the stand taken by Bush that United States will not let go after it happened -- that we understand, but what could be done and what should be done, we stand ready to listen, to hear and to be consulted."

'Prime suspect'

On Thursday, Powell went further than any Bush administration official in naming bin Laden a leading suspect in Tuesday's attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Speaking about high-level contacts between the United States and Pakistan since Tuesday's attacks, Powell said: "We're looking at those terrorist organizations who have the kind of capacity to conduct the actions of September 11."

"We haven't yet publicly identified the organization we believe was responsible, but when you look at the list of candidates, one resides in that region."

When asked if bin Laden was that "candidate," Powell replied: "Yes."

The U.S. wants Afghanistan to expel bin Laden and stop allowing terrorist training in the country.







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