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Vajpayee, Bush meet over terrorism war

Leaders discuss need to help rebuild Afghanistan

Vajpayee
PM Vajpayee, President Bush and other world leaders will attend the U.N. General Assembly this weekend  


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee Friday expressed his "sympathy, solidarity and support" with the United States in its war against terrorism.

Visiting the White House for talks with President Bush, Vajpayee also stressed his belief that countries must help rebuild Afghanistan -- the target of U.S. airstrikes -- once the war is over.

Bush acknowledged that was part of the discussion with the prime minister, although he did not commit the United States to any specific reconstruction effort in Afghanistan during brief comments to reporters.

"We discussed a post-Taliban Afghanistan that enables the country to survive and move forward," the president said.

Bush also repeated his comment of recent days that U.S. allies must do more than offer words of support.

"The time of sympathy is over," Bush said." We appreciate the condolences. Now is the time for action."

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He said the prime minister understood that point and is responding.

Observers also noted that Vajpayee was likely to show Bush evidence linking terrorists being pursued in Afghanistan with the militants attacking Kashmir, the territory disputed between India and Pakistan.

The meeting came on the same day that Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf arrives in the United States.

He is also expected to hold talks with Bush -- an occasion that will be used by both sides to set the seal on the recent thawing of ties between Islamabad and Washington resulting from Pakistan's support for the U.S. action in Afghanistan.

On Thursday Vajpayee held meetings on Capitol Hill with members of Congress who assured the Indian leader of his country's role as a strong American ally -- despite the strengthening ties between the United States and Pakistan, which is a traditional rival of India.

U.S. lawmakers also welcomed India's strong commitment to fighting terrorism.

Following the meeting with Bush, Vajpayee will travel to New York, where he will attend the U.N general assembly session.

But the diplomatic tour will not include a meeting with Pakistan, after Vajpayee ruled out talks with Musharraf in the near future.

"There is no conducive atmosphere for talks and till a proper climate is created, there can be no talks," Vajpayee was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times as he was leaving Moscow for Washington on Thursday.

Vajpayee argued that talking with the Pakistani president at this point would be inappropriate due to the escalating violence along the Muslim-dominated territory of Kashmir in the recent weeks.

India has also sought to widen the global war on terrorism to include the rebels in Kashmir.

Pakistan's central role in the U.S-led coalition against terrorism has also caused stirrings of discontent in India.

Request for talks

India and Pakistan are under pressure by the U.S. administration to continue dialogue between all parties on the disputed territory of Kashmir, where tensions continue to mount.

But U.S. officials in Pakistan have declined to say whether the United States planned on taking on a greater mediating role on the issue.

Like Vajpayee, Musharraf is also due to address the U.N. assembly and is scheduled to meet separately with Bush and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Observers noted the Bush administration was likely to reiterate its request for Indo-Pakistan talks.

Vajpayee and Musharraf held a summit in the north Indian city of Agra in July, but it ended in stalemate.



 
 
 
 


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