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Pak envoy to US denies army spokesman's remarks

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September 07, 2006 10:14 IST
Pakistani Ambassador to the United States Mahmud Ali Durrani has denied remarks attributed to the country's top army spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan that Osama bin Laden would not be arrested if he agreed to live peacefully in Pakistan.

Durrani said that if bin Laden were captured in Pakistan he would be turned over to the United States.

"You bet. No doubt on that," the envoy maintained on Wednesday when asked if bin Laden would be turned over.

" long as one is staying like a peaceful citizen, one would not be taken into custody. One has to stay like a peaceful citizen and not allowed to participate in any kind of terrorist activity," Major General Shaukat Sultan was quoted as saying by an ABC News broadcast on Wednesday, reportedly in a reference to bin Laden.

Asked if General Sultan was referring to bin Laden, Durrani said, "Absolutely not. He's not only being misquoted, he's been grossly misquoted. I have spoken to the person who is supposed to have given this statement... How could he have said -- we say and we continue to work towards... the hunt for bin Laden," he remarked in a television interview on Wednesday.

"If we capture him alive, we will put him to justice. We will not leave him. There's no question," Durrani said, adding that Laden would be turned over to the United States if caught.

"Why not" he said.

Durrani said the hunt for bin Laden was "pretty intense" but defended the decision not to allow American forces inside Pakistan to assist in the hunt.

"...we are not Afghanistan, we are not Iraq. We have a very strong army. We don't need that help. If we needed it we would have asked you, but we really don't need it," the Pakistani Ambassador said.

Durrani also denied that the agreement reached in Waziristan effectively carved out a sanctuary for the Taliban and the al Qaeda inside Pakistan.

"This is totally incorrect. It is preposterous that they would be allowed this. I think part of the deal, there are two, three elements which you should know. One is that there will be no cross-border movement. There will be no terrorist organisations. It will be peaceful coexisting. This is a deal we have with the tribe. And these tribal deals have been there for decades and centuries," Durrani said.

The Pakistani Foreign Ministry and Major General Shaukat Sultan have both denied the remarks earlier.

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