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Musharraf: Bush visit "extremely successful"
K J M Varma in Islamabad | March 06, 2006 22:29 IST
President Pervez Musharraf Monday said the visit of US President George W Bush to Pakistan was "extremely successful" in discussing issues like Kashmir, acquisition of F-16 fighter jets at a cheaper cost and meeting Islamabad's defence and energy requirements.
In an interaction with editors of the Pakistani media to dispel the impression that the visit drew a blank, Musharraf said he discussed Kashmir issue at length with Bush and that the US President agreed to the play role of facilitator even though bilateral discussions with India would be continued to find an amicable solution.
He said President Bush had assured to sustain US influence for meaningful progress towards resolution of Kashmir and this was in Pakistan's political interest.
"We have had substantial discussion on the Kashmir issue and agreed that there has to be a resolution of the dispute," he said adding Bush consented to be a facilitator at his request. His meeting with the editors came as Pakistan media and opposition parties said the visit marked a US tilt towards India as President Bush worked out a strategic partnership with New Delhi and concluded a landmark civil nuclear agreement while declining to extend the same to Pakistan.
On Bush's refusal to extend the civil nuclear deal to Pakistan, Musharraf said media should not take an "Indo-centric" approach in judging the outcome of talks in this regard. "Every country has its own national interests and we have our own requirements," he said adding there was no need to be "Indo-centric."
Musharraf also said Pakistan has its own constraints in negotiating a nuclear agreement with the US due to proliferation activities of disgraced nuclear scientist A Q Khan. He said he has discussed Washington's cooperation in setting up a nuclear power plant as part of its efforts to fulfill its rapidly growing energy needs. However, Pakistan's national interests and requirements are different from those of India and the outcome should not be judged through an Indo-centric approach, he said. Stating that India and US has strategic nuclear cooperation with India, he pointed out that Pakistan does not need such a cooperation.
"We have our own nuclear capability. We do not need any support. The nuclear cooperation with India, you all know what is its direction. Our directions are different from theirs. Our is a deterrence-based programme and it is going on well. We do not need any cooperation (in this regard). So there is no need for any comparisons," he said.
Musharraf also said he has asked Bush to supply F-16 fighter aircraft at cheaper costs under the Economic Assistance for Development facility, which Pakistan was entitled as Non-NATO ally, a status conferred by Washington in 2003. Pakistan was allowed to purchase the aircraft after US lifted restrictions in this regard, but Islamabad deferred the decision in the wake of the October 8 earthquake.
Musharraf said Pakistan will also induct JF-17, a jointly-produced aircraft by Pakistan and China, in its air fleet. Pakistan however was not into an arms race but would maintain defensive deterrence in all fields and at all costs, he added.