Bush pledges to protect Pakistan
US President George Bush has said he wants to help Pakistan protect
He was speaking moments before his first meeting with Pakistani
President Asif Ali Zardari at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly
in New York.
Mr Bush did not refer directly to controversial US strikes in
Pakistan that have caused bilateral tension. On Tuesday night there were
unconfirmed reports that an unmanned US drone had crashed in Pakistan,
although it was unclear whether it had been shot down.
There is growing anger in Pakistan at US forces in Afghanistan
violating Pakistani sovereignty.
Zardari and Bush
President Bush said before the meeting: "Your words have been very
strong about Pakistan's sovereign right and sovereign duty to protect
your country, and the United States wants to help." The US is watching
closely how Pakistan reacts to the Marriott attack Details of what was
said during the discussions between the two presidents has not yet been
The US has launched several attacks on militant targets in Pakistan
recently. Details about Tuesday's incident involving the suspected drone
are still unclear. Pakistani intelligence sources said a drone came down
in the village of Jalal Khel in South Waziristan, close to the Afghan
Some reports said tribesmen or Pakistani troops had shot it down but
neither can be confirmed. The incident is likely to add to the
The nations have been in deep disagreement since 3 September when the
US conducted its first ground assault in Pakistani territory on what it
said was a militant target in South Waziristan.
The Pakistan government reacted with fury at the unauthorised
incursion in which they said US troops killed 20 innocent villagers. On
two occasions since then Pakistani troops have opened fire to thwart US
forces trying to cross the border.
US military officials have complained that militants operate from
safe havens in Pakistan from where they attack international and Afghan
troops in Afghanistan. They say that if they brief Pakistan about where
they want to attack militants, elements in Pakistan's intelligence
services sympathetic to the militants tip them off to help them escape.
The BBC's Chris Morris in Islamabad says that cross border
co-operation was high on the agenda when Mr Zardari and Mr Bush meet on
the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting.
In a recent interview on American television, Mr Zardari again
insisted that only Pakistani forces were authorised to operate on
Pakistani soil. Our correspondent says Mr Zardari cannot accept any
military activities which will increase the mood of anti-Americanism in
his country and from his perspective make the fight against militancy
Also on the agenda was the bombing of the Islamabad Marriott hotel
that left more than 50 people dead.
A little known group calling itself the Fidayeen-e-Islam said it
carried out the bombing. It has called for an end to all American
involvement in Pakistan if further attacks are to be avoided.
The US state department said the bomb showed the need for the US,
Pakistan and Afghanistan "to work and redouble our efforts to counter
The BBC's Kim Ghattas in Washington says the US is watching closely
to see how Islamabad deals with the aftermath of the Marriott attack.
Pakistan's government has promised raids in some "hotspots" near the
Afghan border. But the US would like to see Pakistan take a more
aggressive military approach on the ground, and rethink its unpopular
peace deals with the militants.