Musharraf raises K-word, Bush knocks down N-talk
Islamabad, March 4, 2006
In a blunt rejection of Pakistan's demand for a civilian nuclear deal on the lines he clinched with India, US President George W Bush on Saturday said the two countries had different needs and different histories.

After discussions with President Pervez Musharraf here, the US leader was asked by reporters whether Washington would have with energy-deficient Pakistan a nuclear deal similar to the one he had reached with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi two days ago.

With Musharraf standing by his side, Bush stated in unambiguous terms that "Pakistan and India are different countries with different needs and different histories".

The US President's reference to "different histories" was an obvious reference to the track record of India and Pakistan in the nuclear field. 
Washington has maintained that India is a responsible nuclear power in contrast to Pakistan's clandestine help in this sphere to some countries highlighted by the actions of its top scientist AQ Khan, now under house arrest.

On Musharraf seeking US involvement in facilitating the resolution of Kashmir and other issues, Bush refused to be drawn into it saying the "best way" for doing so was for leaders of the two countries to "step up and lead".

Bush refuses to mediate on Kashmir issue

"The best way for Kashmir to be resolved is for the leaders of both countries to step up and lead, and that's exactly what President Musharraf has done and that's what Prime Minister Singh has assured me he wants to do," he said.

He made it clear that the role of the US was to continue to encourage the parties concerned to come together to resolve the contentious issue.

"The atmosphere is changing," he said noting that the confidence-building measures taken by the two countries have begun to bear fruit. He also referred to India's prompt help to earthquake victims in Pakistan.

Condemning Thursday's suicide attack in Karachi in which an American diplomat was killed, Bush said, "we have to fight the war on terror 

Addressing the joint press conference, Musharraf said "I referred to Kashmir and requested him to remain involved for facilitating resolution of all issues including Kashmir to bring peace in the region."

On strategic relationship with Pak

Musharraf said Pakistan and the US have decided to institutionalise their strategic relationship. "We laid the foundations of a strong, sustainable, broadbased long-term relationship. This includes, first of all, commencing commencing the US-Pakistan strategic dialogue in an institionalised manner," he said.

The dialogue will include defence relations, cooperation against the fight against terrorism and resolution of all disputes in the region including Kashmir, he said.

Bush said the role of US was to continue to encourage the parties to come together to resolve the Kashmir issue.

The best way for Kashmir to be resolved is for leaders of both the countries to step up and lead, he said adding the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) taken by the two countries have begun to bear fruit.

"The atmosphere is changing," Bush said noting that there were increased trade and people-to-people contacts now. He also recalled how India helped Pakistan during last year's earthquake.

On terrorism

On terrorism, the US leader said that the two countries were working to strengthen the lasting partnership to fight terror especially lauding Pakistan's role after the 9/11 attack.

He also condemened the attack in which a US foreign service official died and said this showed that the war on terror continued.

"We have to fight the war together and Pakistan will be playing an important role in this," he said.

Musharraf's gratitude

The Pakistan President also expressed extreme gratitude to President Bush for assistance in the earthquake relief work.

He said, "I don't think without US assistance we could have met the challenges of the reconstruction after the earthquake."

Bush said that his visit to Pakistan has consolidated the resolve to fight against terrorism.

Earlier, Bush and Musharraf held a one-on-one meeting to discuss various issues including Islamabad's role in the war on terror.

Bush, who arrived in Pakistan late on Friday, started his official engagements with a reception at the Presidency where he was presented a guard of honour.

Talking to reporters before the US president’s arrival, Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri said Pakistan and United States had cordial relations which would strengthen with the visit.

The foreign minister said that after the 9/11 attacks, the relations between Pakistan and United States had become more important.

Kasuri expressed the hope that President Bush’s visit would open news avenues of cooperation between the two countries

Bush, according to sources, is expected to call for greater efforts against terrorism, even as hundreds protested across the country against the visit.

Bush, who flew in from India to the military airbase in nearby Rawalpindi aboard Air Force One, was received at the airport by Kurshid and his wife and flown to the Presidency where is staying.

No television channel was allowed to telecast his arrival live. All cellular phones around the military airbase were jammed.

A three-tier security cordon was laid for the US president and First Lady Laura Bush. Army commandos, snipers and US Marines were part of the cordon.

Protests against Bush visit

Some opposition parties have said they will hold rallies Saturday to protest Bush's visit.

Tehreek-e-Insaaf chief Imran Khan announced that Saturday would be observed as a black day and rallies would be taken out. The, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal, an alliance of six Islamic parties, supported his call.

However, other political parties have decided not to support Khan.

Protests were held across Pakistan on Friday with crowds burning American flags, chanting "Death to Bush!" and scuffling with police shortly before his arrival.

In Karachi, where a bomb blast near the US consulate on Thursday killed four people including a US diplomat, police used tear gas and batons to disperse demonstrators.

Police had to use batons to break up a huge crowd that gathered on a major road near where Bush's plane landed.

Bush, Musharraf to discuss fight against terror
Saturday, March 04, 2006
ISLAMABAD: US President George Bush and his Pakistani counterpart were set to discuss Pakistan's role in the US-led war on terror on Saturday, during a high-profile, high-security visit. 

President General Pervez Musharraf formally welcomed Bush on Saturday morning at his official residence in Islamabad, where the US leader inspected an honour guard in the forecourt before walking inside for talks. 

Bush arrived in Pakistan late Friday, following an unannounced visit to Afghanistan and three days in India, Pakistan's neighbour and rival. 

Air Force One landed after dark, its lights off and window shades drawn to conceal the distinctive aircraft. 

Bush and his wife, Laura, traveled either by limousine or helicopter - it wasn't immediately clear which - to the US Embassy in the heavily fortified diplomatic compound in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, where they were spending the night. The security precautions underscored the continuing terrorist threat in this poor, conservative Muslim country where a US diplomat was killed in a bomb attack a day earlier. 

"I will meet with President Musharraf to discuss Pakistan's vital cooperation in the war on terror and our efforts to foster economic and political development so that we can reduce the appeal of radical Islam," Bush said shortly before taking off for Pakistan. 

"I believe that a prosperous, democratic Pakistan will be a steadfast partner for America, a peaceful neighbor for India and a force for freedom and moderation in the Arab world." 

Later, White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters that Bush meant to say Pakistan would be a force for freedom and moderation in the Muslim world. Pakistan is not an Arab country. 

Though Pakistan is a key US partner in routing out terrorists, al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is believed to be still hiding along its porous, mountainous border with Afghanistan. On Thursday, a suicide car bomber killed the American diplomat and three others in a strike near the US consulate in the southern port city of Karachi, a hotbed of Islamic militancy. 

Bush has promised to raise with Musharraf the need to do more to hunt down al-Qaida members. He also was expected to talk about the need for additional democratic reforms. 

Musharraf seized power seven years ago in a bloodless coup and has reneged on a promise to relinquish his military post. 

But a public show of solidarity for the Pakistani leader - who has survived repeated assassination attempts blamed in part on his support for the US war on terror - was likely to be the focus in the two leaders' meetings. 

Another goal of the Pakistan stop is to boost the US image among Muslims by showcasing American contributions after a devastating earthquake in northern Pakistan in October.

Bush, Manmohan create history, seal nuclear deal

New Delhi, March 2, 2006
US President George W Bush and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday announced their countries had reached agreement on a landmark nuclear deal.

"We concluded an historic agreement today on nuclear power," Bush said during a joint press conference.

Under the accord, the United States would share American nuclear know-how and fuel with India to help power its fast-growing economy, even though India won't sign the international non-proliferation treaty.

It would represent a major shift in policy for the United States, which imposed temporary sanctions on India in 1998 after it conducted nuclear tests, and came after last minute haggling about how to separate India's tightly entwined civilian and nuclear programmes.
"We have reached an understanding on the implementation of our agreement on civil nuclear cooperation," Singh said. "I have conveyed to the President that India has finalised the identification of civilian facilities to which we had committed." 
Negotiations on the deal went down to the wire, with details being hammered out even after Bush had arrived in New Delhi. "It's not an easy job for the Prime Minister to achieve this agreement," Bush said. "I understand. It's not easy for the American President to achieve this agreement."

Bush, mindful of opposition among some in the US Congress to such a deal, called it "a necessary agreement." "It's one that will 
help both our peoples," he said. "Again, I applaud you for your courage and your leadership."

According to sources, India has accepted opening up of civilian nuclear reactors to safeguards in perpetuity. Fourteen nuclear facilities have been designated as civilian and eight as military.

Fast breeder reactors will not be opened to international inspection and New Delhi will decide whether the future reactors will be civilian or military.

Agreement on economic, scientific cooperation

The two countries have set a three-year target to double their trade.

A joint commission on science and technology, more cooperation in cyber security and collaboration in agricultural research and the development of low-cost drugs to fight AIDS and bird flu were among the agreements reached during talks between Bush and Manmohan.

On India's bid for UNSC seat

Bush sidestepped a question on why Washington was not supporting India's bid for a permanent UN Security Council seat, saying he first favoured reform of the world body.

"We're open-minded and we're listening. But what we don't want to do is have a Security Council reform measure that causes the other reforms not to go forward," he said.

"We support United Nations Security Council reform, and we're interested in different ways to reform the United Nations Security Council. My concern all along, however, is that if we only stick to the United Nations Security Council reform, we miss an opportunity to reform the United Nations overall," Bush asserted.

"And so our position is, let's make sure reform overall moves forward, as we think about the best way to reform the Security Council," he added.

Noting that the UN "is a very important international body", he said it was one that required "better accountability and -- accountability on how we spend money and accountability on getting results.

"One such area, for example, is the Human Rights Commission. The Human Rights Commission needs to be reformed in a way that actually is able to achieve significant results on behalf of the world," Bush asserted.

Bush not terrorised by blasts in Pak

Later in the week, Bush is heading to Pakistan where on Thursday two bombs ripped through the parking lot of the Marriott Hotel in Karachi, exploding windows in the nearby US consulate. Bush said the victims included at least one US citizen, a foreign service officer he did not identify by name.
The attack occurred hundreds of miles from the capital of Islamabad, where Bush's events were taking place, but underscored the need for the extraordinary security planned for his visit there. Bush said the attack would not deter him in his travels. "Terrorists and killers are not going to prevent me from going to Pakistan," he said.

Protests welcomed Bush in Delhi

Tens of thousands of angry protestors took to the streets in major centres across the nation on Thursday to demand that the visiting US President go home.

Most of the demonstrations and protest marches passed off peacefully but in Jammu and Kashmir nine people were injured when police waded with batons into protestors on the outskirts of the summer capital Srinagar.

The baton charge came after some of around 4,000 protesters, mostly Shiite Muslims, hurled stones and bricks at police and security vehicles, a police officer said.

Demonstrators were trying to reach a small United Nations office to present a memorandum denouncing Bush's visit to India.

In New Delhi, some 15,000 communist supporters and unionists aligned with the ruling Congress shouted "Killer Bush, go back!" as the US leader was signing an historic nuclear deal with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a few kilometres away.

Over a thousand policemen including paramilitary troopers and armed commandos, kept a watchful eye as protestors marched from the city centre towards Parliament. They blocked them from reaching the building

Manmohan Singh to receive Bush at airport
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will personally receive US President George W Bush who arrives here on Wednesday evening on a three-day maiden visit to India with wife Laura and a large official delegation. 

Bush would, however, be given a ceremonial welcome on Thursday morning on the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the presidential palace. Bush also travels to Hyderabad for a few hours on Friday, before leaving for Pakistan the same evening. 

He is the fifth US president to visit India. 

Manmohan Singh had also set aside protocol to receive Saudi King Abdullah who was chief guest at the Republic Day parade on January 26.

Bush drops in on Afghanistan on way to India
BAGRAM AIR BASE (AFGANISTAN): US President George W Bush today made a surprise visit to Aghanistan while on his way to India, flying here secretly to support its fledging government in the face of rising violence from al-Qaida and Taliban militants. 

Bush made a detour from a trip to India for a five- hour visit here that was not announced officially until Air Force One landed at this sprawling military base north of Kabul. 

The White House wanted to conceal Bush's presence to reduce the risk of any attempt on his life. But word of his visit leaked shortly before he landed. 

Bush, making his first visit to Afghanistan, was later greeted by President Hamid Karzai at his palace in Kabul. Bush was accompanied by his wife, Laura, and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Bush and Karzai were to have lunch and hold a joint press conference, said an Afghan official, who was familiar with Karzai's schedule but did not want to be named because of the sensitivity of 
the issue. 

Bush was also to preside over a ceremonial ribbon-cutting for the U.S. Embassy, and to give a pep talk to troops at Bagram Air Base. Security was tight in the Afghan capital, with helicopters flying overhead and U.S. military Humvee jeeps patrolling the streets. 

The U.S. military leads a 21,000-strong coalition of international forces hunting Taliban and al-Qaida militants, mostly 
in the country's south and east. Karzai is a close ally of Washington and took power after the ouster of the hardline Taliban regime by U.S.-led forces in late 2001 for hosting al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden. More than 200 US personnel have died in the Afghan conflict in the past four years. Militants stepped up attacks last year, making it the most violent since the fall of the Taliban. In Washington on Tuesday, the top U.S. military intelligence official told the U.S. Congress that violence in Afghanistan increased 20 percent last year. 

``We judge insurgents now represent a greater threat to the expansion of Afghan government authority than at any point since late 2001, and will be active this spring,'' said Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency. 

There are about 19,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but that number will be reduced by about 16,000 this year. It was Bush's second visit to a war front, following a secret trip he made to have Thanksgiving Dinner in 2003 with U.S. troops in Iraq. 


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