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Bush raises infiltration issue with Musharraf

By Sridhar Krishnaswami

Washington June 24. The United States President, George W. Bush, has stressed that while the United States wanted a peaceful resolution of the discord between India and Pakistan, its role will be ``to aid the process forward'' and that the principal decision-makers will be the governments in New Delhi and Islamabad. At the end of his meeting with the visiting President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf, at Camp David, Mr. Bush said F-16s will not be a part of the $ 3 billion package being assembled for Pakistan.

The U.S. and Pakistan will be initialling a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. ``The President (Gen. Musharraf) is not afraid to bring up the issue of F-16s. He has been a strong advocate for the sale of F-16s to Pakistan. In the package that we discussed, the five-year, three billion package, half of that money goes for defence matters, of which the F-16s won't be a part. Nevertheless,we want to work closely with our friend to make sure the package meets the needs of the Pakistani people'', Mr. Bush said.

The two Presidents had a 90-minute session at the Laurel Cabin of Camp David on Tuesday after which they addressed a news conference before adjourning for lunch with their wives. Prior to taking two questions each from each side, both Mr. Bush and Gen. Musharraf made an opening statement. ``I'm encouraged by the progress President Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Mr. Vajpayee may have made in easing tensions between Pakistan and India. I am hopeful that the two countries will deepen their engagement on all issues, including Kashmir. In our meeting we discussed the need to address extremism and cross-border infiltration; and I assured the President that the United States will do all we can to promote peace'', Mr. Bush said in prepared remarks.

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