Biden urges Pakistan to eliminate Al Qaeda hideouts (Second lead)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

ISLAMABAD - US Vice President Joe Biden Wednesday urged Pakistan to take action against Al Qaeda, which he said continues to plot attacks against America from remote areas of the country.

“The fact is that Al Qaeda plotted the attack that killed nearly 3,000 American citizens and continue to plot attack on the US and its interests to this very day,” Biden said after meeting Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani.

“They (Al Qaeda elements) have, not with your help, but they have found refuge in some remote region of your country and have worked with extremist allies who have you also as targets,” Biden added.

He was in Pakistan when a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into the outer wall of a police station in Bannu district, adjacent to the tribal region. A police official said the bombing demolished the building and an adjoining mosque.

“According to initial reports 18 people are killed, 10 security personnel and eight civilians in the mosque,” said an official at the district’s police emergency centre. “Fifteen more are injured.”

Biden talked about importance of Pakistan for his country and promised long-term relations and support for Pakistan’s efforts to defeat violent extremism in the border areas of the country.

Biden rejected the impression that US was violating Pakistan’s sovereignty by conducting drone attacks that have killed hundreds of people in its tribal region.

“I would respectfully suggest that the extremists violate Pakistan’s sovereignty and corrupt its good name and our goal is to work with your leaders and you, Mr. Prime Minister, to restore the sovereignty in areas of your country where extremists have violated it,” Biden said.

Hours before his visit, a US drone attack killed four people in North Waziristan, a tribal district known as the hub of Al Qaeda and Taliban. The identity of those killed was not known yet.

Gilani said they discussed combatting insurgents, issues of regional stability, promoting reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan.

Biden also met President Asif Ali Zardari who vowed that Islamabad would fight to eliminate violent extremism and terrorism from Pakistani soil.

“Pakistan is committed to fight and defeat extremists and terrorists of all hue and the fight against them would continue till the complete eradication of this menace,” Zardari said.

Zardari was reported as speaking out against recent US drone attacks inside Pakistan’s border. The statement said he urged the US to transfer some of its technology so that Pakistan could use unmanned aircraft against the militants.

Biden planned to meet army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. He was expected to try to convince the military leadership to exert more pressure on Islamist insurgents launching cross-border raids on NATO forces into Afghanistan.

He was also to discuss the material requirements for Pakistan’s military in order to move against the insurgents in the tribal areas.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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