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Musharraf rape claim posted on Web

From CNN State Department Producer Elise Labott

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Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf says he was misquoted.

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(CNN) -- A dispute has developed between Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and The Washington Post over comments he made in which he suggested rape was a route to riches in his country.

In an interview with the paper last week, Musharraf said claiming rape was becoming a "moneymaking concern" in Pakistan.

"A lot of people say that if you want to go abroad and get a visa from Canada or citizenship and be a millionaire, get yourself raped," Musharraf said, according to audio of the interview posted on the Washington Post Web site Friday.

Musharraf had denied making the comments after they drew outrage around the world.

Women in Pakistan protested in front of the parliament building in Islamabad, and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin condemned the remarks.

Musharraf was speaking about the case of Muktaran Mai, an illiterate woman who was gang raped three years ago in Pakistan and has attracted worldwide attention for fighting to bring her rapists to justice.

Musharraf had blocked Mai earlier this year from traveling to the United States to attend a conference on women's rights, but later lifted the ban amid criticism from the Bush administration.

In the Post interview, Musharraf did acknowledge his country needs "to do a lot" more with regards to violence against women, but he also said he felt like Pakistan was being unfairly singled out.

"We need to prevent violence against women, but why are we being singled out," he said. "As the leader of Pakistan, as a patriotic Pakistani, I would not like my country to be singled out on an issue which is global."

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack declined to take a position on Musharraf's remarks, saying the Pakistani president had denied making them.

"I'm not here to play judge about whether or not he was quoted accurately," he said, but added that world leaders should denounce violence against women.

"We encourage leaders around the world to speak out about the fact that violence against women is unacceptable," McCormack said.

McCormack's comments, along with Musharraf's denial, prompted the Washington Post to place the audio from the interview on its Web site.

"A review by The Post of a tape recording of the interview showed that Musharraf was accurately quoted," the newspaper said.

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