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October 29, 2001
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Israel wants Musharraf to stay

T V Parasuram in Washington

In a significant development, Israel said it wants Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to stay and understands US strategy in view of Washington's attack on Afghanistan to nab terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Perez told The Washington Post and Newsweek in an interview published on Sunday that he prays for Musharraf.

Perez said he told US President George W Bush: "We understand your strategy. I would have never dreamed that I would pray for the safety of Musharraf, the President of Pakistan. That is a most unexpected experience. But we understand and don't want to have an agenda of our own."

Referring to his talks with Bush over the Middle east situation, Perez said the president changed his demand from 'immediate' withdrawal to withdrawal 'as soon as possible' after being told that Israel did not intend to remain there (indefinitely).

About Israel's problems with getting Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to arrest known terrorists, he said, "We have to get Arafat to do what he says. The problem is the gap between what he says and what he does."

Peres said that four people killed Israeli Tourism Minister Zeevi.

"One is in our hands. We told the Palestinians, get hold of the other three and we want them extradited for the killing... Arfat declared he is going to outlaw them, but the problem with Arafat is not his declarations but his actions. It is easier to use microphones than to use weapons."

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