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'US aware of Pak's defence needs'

By Hamid Mir in Islamabad
March 18, 2005 00:47 IST
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US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice gave a special interview to Geo TV on her visit to Pakistan on Thursday.

On her first visit to South Asia after she took over her new post as secretary of state, Dr Rice spoke on a range of sensitive topics including subcontinental issues, domestic politics in Pakistan and the nuclear leak issue.

In an exclusive account to, Hamid Mir gives a sneak peek into Dr Rice's interview.

Responding to a question as to why the US was opposed to the India-Iran gas pipeline, she said, "We have certain issues with Iran because that country is involved in terrorism, has been interfering in the affairs of its neighbours and is also facing UN sanctions. So we not only expressed our concerns to India but also told Japan to stop gas project with Iran."

'No deal with Pakistan' | 'Pak threat perception is there'

On the nuclear leak controversy, Dr Rice said Pakistan and the United States needed to work together on the investigation into Pakistan scientist Dr A Q Khan.

She expressed satisfaction on the status of the probe against Dr A Q Khan.

She did not respond clearly when asked "do you want direct access to Khan?"

The visit in images

She said the nuclear black market was a matter of great concern for all. She said the US was happy that this network was out of business now.

On the issue of subcontinental politics, Dr Rice said that relations between India and Pakistan were improving but differences still existed. These differences must be resolved peacefully, she said.

'We were ready to punish Pak'

Smiling, she said, "I was trying to understand cricket from President Musharraf last night (Wednesday) but I find it difficult. But I am happy that he is going to India to watch a cricket match".

Dr Rice said she had discussed economic cooperation, strategic issues, the war against terror and the situation in Afghanistan with Pakistani authorities.

New info about A Q Khan-Iran n-nexus | Pak: Time report on Khan 'incorrect'

On the war on terror, she said she was sure that Osama bin Laden was no more in a position to operate in Afghanistan and the North West Frontier Province in Pakistan."

"He is on the run, he is facing lot of problems and that is very important achievement for us".

Dr Rice said that President Bush was keen to visit India and Pakistan and that he will come here very soon.

She admitted that the political situation in Pakistan was also discussed during talks with Musharraf. Stressing that democracy was important to both nations, she applauded the fact that Pakistan had a free press.

Asked why US was stalling F-16s' sale to Pakistan, she said "we have discussed defence cooperation and we are aware about the defence needs of Pakistan".

'Link F-16s with access to AQ Khan'

She agreed that US was facing a crisis of image in the Muslim world. But "we helped Muslims in Kuwait against Saddam Hussain, we helped Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo, we liberated the Muslims of Afghanistan from Taliban and now we are helping them in many parts of the world", she said.

She said US has a lot of respect for Islamic culture.

"I don't believe in the clash of civilizations theory; we are one civilization", she said.

(The full interview will be telecast tomorrow on Geo TV)

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Hamid Mir in Islamabad