Bush Lauds Cooperation of Karzai, Musharraf in War on Terrorism
By Brendan Murray | September 23, 2006
Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush said talks next week with the ``courageous'' leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan will show support for two key allies in the effort to marginalize extremists and fight terrorism.
Bush, who met yesterday at the White House with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, is scheduled to meet with Musharraf and Afghan President Hamid Karzai Sept. 27 in Washington. Bush is seeking assurances that the two leaders won't let militant Islamic Taliban and al-Qaeda forces regroup or hide in the mountainous border region that divides the two countries.
``Under President Musharraf, Pakistan is siding with the forces of freedom and moderation and helping to defend the civilized world,'' Bush said in his weekly radio broadcast. ``It is in America's interest to help him succeed.''
Working with Karzai, ``we will defeat the enemies of a free Afghanistan and help the Afghan people build a nation that will never again oppress them or be a safe haven for terrorists,'' Bush said.
It was the sixth week in the past seven that Bush has made the war on terrorism the subject of his radio address, which capped a week of meetings at the United Nations and with Musharraf in Washington. Yesterday, Musharraf appeared with Bush at the White House, seeking to reassure the U.S. he is doing everything possible to fight terrorism and saying a recent treaty with Pakistani tribal leaders will deny refuge to Taliban fighters.
Musharraf has deployed about 90,000 troops along Pakistan's mountainous 1,500-mile border. The U.S. has 21,000 troops in Afghanistan, most of them in bases along the border and operating separately from a North Atlantic Treaty Organization force of about 20,0000 that is seeking to restore order within the country.
Taliban fighters have increased attacks in Afghanistan after Afghan and international forces expanded operations to the south and east. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said two days ago that the violence in recent months poses the gravest threat to achieving peace in Afghanistan since the Taliban regime was ousted by U.S.-led forces in 2001.
Bush's focus in the past month on national security and terrorism threats, centered on the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S., gave him a measurable boost in public support a month and a half before the congressional elections. The president's job approval rating rose to 45 percent in a Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll, a jump of 5 percentage points since July, according to the survey of 1,517 adults Sept. 16-19.
Support for Bush's handling of the war in Iraq rose 2 percentage points, to 40 percent, from the last poll. Most Americans, 56 percent, said they don't believe Bush when he says the U.S. military is making a lot of progress in turning Iraq into a safe, democratic country.
Almost 6,600 Iraqi civilians died in sectarian violence and insurgent attacks in July and August, according to a UN report earlier this week that blamed Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government and U.S. training of Iraqi security forces.
In the radio speech, Bush said, ``America will not abandon the Iraqi people in their struggle to defeat the terrorists and build a free society in the heart of the Middle East.''
He also repeated his support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
``By supporting moderate leaders such as President Abbas, the United States can help Israelis and Palestinians build a more hopeful future and achieve the peace we all want in the Holy Land,'' Bush said. ``We can support the moderates and reformers working for change across the broader Middle East, or we can yield the future to the terrorists and extremists.''
Brendan Murray in New York: firstname.lastname@example.org