In a blunt rejection of Pakistan's demand for a civilian nuclear deal on the lines he clinched with India, US President George W Bush [ Images ] today said the two countries had "different needs and different histories".
After discussions with President Pervez Musharraf in Islamabad [ Images ], the US president was asked by reporters whether Washington would have with energy-deficient Pakistan a nuclear deal similar to the one he had reached with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [ Images ] in New Delhi [ Images ] two days ago.
With Musharraf standing by his side, Bush stated in no unambiguous terms: "Pakistan and India [ Images ] are different countries with different needs and different histories".
The US president's reference to "different histories" was an obvious reference to the track record of India and Pakistan in the nuclear field. Washington has maintained that India is a responsible nuclear power in contrast to Pakistan's clandestine help in this sphere to some countries, highlighted by the actions of its top scientist A Q Khan, now under house arrest.
Pakistan also sought President Bush's role in 'facilitating' a resolution of the Kashmir [ Images ] dispute.
"I did express my gratitude for the efforts towards resolution of the disputes to bring peace in the region. I referred to Kashmir and requested him to remain involved for facilitating a resolution of all issues, including Kashmir, to bring peace in the region," Musharraf said at the joint press conference.
Musharraf said he and Bush have decided to further strengthen the strategic relationship between the two countries by having a strategic dialogue and institutionalise it.
Image: Bush meets Musharraf
"We laid the foundations of a strong, sustainable, broadbased long-term relationship between Pakistan and the US. These include, first of all, commencing the US-Pakistan strategic dialogue in an institutionalised manner.
"These include defence relations, cooperation against the fight against terrorism and resolution of all disputes in the region," he said.
Bush said the US' role was to continue to encourage the parties to come together to resolve the Kashmir issue.
The best way for Kashmir to be resolved is for leaders of both the countries to step up and lead, he said adding that the Confidence Building Measures taken by the two countries have begun to bear fruit.
"The atmosphere is changing," Bush said, noting that there were increased trade and people-to-people contacts now.
He also recalled how India helped Pakistan during last year's earthquake.
On terrorism, the US president said the two countries were working to strengthen their partnership to fight terror, and especially lauded Pakistan's role after the 9/11 terror attacks.
He also condemened the attack in which a US foreign service official died and said this showed that the war on terror continued.
"We have to fight the war together and Pakistan will be playing an important role in this," he said.