Bush to send troops if Osama in Pak

Pak vows not to let foreign forces enter its territory; Musharraf to meet US prez

Washington, September 21 :

US President George W Bush would be “absolutely” willing to send American soldiers into Pakistan if he had solid intelligence on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.

The US has been actively hunting for Osama bin Laden since the September 2001 terrorist attacks, and he is widely believed to be hiding in the rugged terrain along the Afghan-Pakistani border. When asked during an interview on CNN yesterday, Bush said he “absolutely” would order US troops into Pakistan to snatch or kill bin Laden if he had good intelligence.

Meanwhile, a report from Islamabad said Pakistan today vowed to not let foreign forces enter its territory, a day after Bush said he would order American military action inside this Islamic nation if Osama bin Laden was found to be hiding there.

Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam declined to respond directly to Bush’s remarks, but reiterated President Gen Pervez Musharraf’s recent rejection of any foreign military forces stepping foot in Pakistan. “Any terrorist action to be taken inside Pakistani territory would be taken by us,” she said.

“He (Musharraf) has said that he would not allow any foreign troops to come inside our territory.” Bin Laden’s whereabouts are unknown, but he is believed to be hiding along the porous Pakistani-Afghan frontier. Bush is scheduled to meet Musharraf tomorrow at the White House and again next week.

In a news conference last week, Bush said he could not send thousands of troops into Pakistan to search for bin Laden without an invitation from Musharraf’s government. “Pakistan’s a sovereign nation,” Bush said then.

Bush disputed any suggestion that Pakistan has not done enough to hunt down terrorist leaders.

“I view President Musharraf as somebody who would like to bring A Qaeda to justice,” Bush said. “There’s no question there is a kind of a hostile territory in the remote regions of Pakistan that makes it easier for somebody to hide.”