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Vice President Biden pushes Pakistan to target militants on Afghanistan border

Vice President Joe Biden, in Pakistan Wednesday, stressed that Pakistan and the United States have a common enemy, and warned of the dangers to the country of tolerating violent extremists.

By Issam AhmedCorrespondent / January 12, 2011

US Vice President Joe Biden (l.) shakes hands with Pakistan's Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani after their joint news conference at the prime minister's residence in Islamabad on Jan. 12. Biden will pressure Pakistan to intensify its crackdown on militants, but will tread carefully to avoid further straining ties.

Adrees Latif/Reuters


Islamabad, Pakistan

Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Islamabad Wednesday for a series of talks aimed at strengthening ties with a crucial ally, while at the same time exerting pressure on civil and military leaders to do more to crackdown on militants on the Pakistan side of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

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His visit follows a two-day trip to Kabul, where he said American troops would stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014 “if the Afghan people want it.” He also noted that Pakistan would have to apply more pressure on the Taliban making cross-border attacks from its territory.

At a joint press conference with Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, Biden stressed that the United States and Pakistan have a common enemy.

“Violent extremists are a threat not just to the United States but to Pakistan as well, and indeed the entire civilized world,” he said, adding: “And they have – not with your help – but they have found refuge in some of the most remote refuges of your country. Al Qaeda has worked with extremist allies who have had you as a target and your people as a target.”

In a sign of growing US concern toward instability in Pakistan following the killing of liberal politician Salman Taseer last week – and the subsequent outpouring of praise for the killer from conservative segments of society, Biden noted: “Societies that applaud such actions end up being consumed by those actions. Please accept my deepest condolences and those of President Obama and those of the American people,” according to the AFP.

But Biden also spoke warmly of Pakistan, praising the vision of its founding father Muhammad Ali Jinnah and the professionalism of its Army. He emphasized his personal ties to the country, noting this was his third trip to the country in four years, and that he had helped draft the Biden-Lugar bill (now known as the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill), which gives $7.5 billion of nonmilitary aid to Pakistan. He also sought to clarify what he termed “misconceptions” among some Pakistanis toward America, including the idea that America disrespects Islam or favors regional rival India.


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