United States President George W Bush continued to stand steadfast by his 'buddy' Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.
Bush said Musharaf's taking off his uniform and stepping down as Pakistan's army chief was a strong first step toward democracy in that country.
In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Bush acknowledged that Musharraf's removing his military fatigues was a significant development and said, 'A lot of people doubted it would ever happen.
'He told me he would take off his uniform and I appreciate that -- that he kept his word.'
Bush also reiterated, 'I've also said that President Musharraf is a person who's done a lot for Pakistan democracy, and in my judgment, in order to get Pakistan back on the road to democracy, he's got to suspend the emergency law before elections.'
When Blitzer asked if he still had a lot of confidence in Musharraf as a leader who will work with the United States to find Osama bin Laden, who is presumably holed up somewhere on Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, Bush replied: 'He's been an absolute reliable partner in dealing with extremists and radicals.'
'It's a tough situation in the remote parts of Pakistan, (but) there are many examples of where the Pakistanis have -- in cooperation with the US -- brought to justice members of al Qaeda's hierarchy, and I am thankful for that,' he said.
When Blitzer reminded him that a year ago up in New York in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly, Bush had said, 'Absolutely,' when asked if he would authorise US troops to go into Pakistan is he had 'actionable intelligence' on Osama bin Laden's whereabouts or other top-ranking al Qaeda members, and if it still were his position, the President said, 'Yes.'
When asked, if it meant his position hadn't changed, Bush replied, 'No, hasn't changed.'