Musharraf: Speed up Iraq exit plan
LONDON, England -- The U.S.-led coalition must speed up its "exit strategy" from Iraq by accelerating the training of local security forces, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has said.
Speaking Tuesday at the end of a two-day visit to London, he said Pakistan would consider helping to train effective Iraqi security forces.
General Musharraf, who opposed the war, told British lawmakers the coalition must not abandon Iraq to instability but should still try to withdraw its forces quickly.
"A lot of emphasis has been given ... on more foreign troops coming. I think where we have reached now, there is an internal government ... we ought to speed up the process of creating the Iraqi security forces," he said.
"Ultimately it is this security force which will allow an exit strategy to the foreign force."
Such training should be "outsourced" to other countries, he said, and suggested Pakistan might "like to look into how much we can contribute."
Musharraf, who came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999, said elections in Iraq were the only way forward. He added that the minority Sunni population must be persuaded not to boycott the vote, scheduled to take place on January 30.
He said defeating terrorism was the greatest challenge facing him at home, with al Qaeda and the Taliban posing the biggest threats to his country.
On Monday, after a meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Musharraf said the fight against global terrorism needed to move beyond military action and address the root causes of militant extremism. (Full story)
Those comments came one day after he told CNN in an interview that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was a mistake that has made the world a more dangerous place. (Full story)
After that interview, a Pakistani government spokesman called CNN to say that Musharraf did not intend to be categorical in his assertion that Bush had erred in invading Iraq.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, British police were investigating how confidential police documents relating to Musharraf's visit were found in a central London street and handed to the Daily Mirror newspaper.
The Mirror said the documents detailed security arrangements for every aspect of Musharraf's London visit. They listed his movements and confidential police radio channels and call signs, the paper said.
Musharraf, who has survived several assassination attempts, arrived in London on Sunday from talks with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington.
"The documents do not contain personal protection arrangements for the president," a Scotland Yard spokesman told Reuters, adding that the loss was embarrassing for the force.
"The police's Directorate of Professional Standards is investigating the loss of the documents, and trying to work out what happened," he said.