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Pakistan proposes Afghan border fence

Musharraf, Rice discuss measure to block extremists

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Pakistan said Monday it is prepared to erect a fence along its border with Afghanistan to prevent incursions by Taliban and Islamic extremists.

Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, made the proposal Monday in a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the United Nations, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri said.

Pakistan has sent thousands of troops to its western border to fend off an insurgency supported by remnants of the Taliban regime in advance of next Sunday's elections in Afghanistan.

A fence would be a further attempt to limit the passage of extremists through the mountainous border region --passage that has provoked international criticism.

"Pakistan can do nothing more than that to prevent incursions," Kasuri said. "We are fed up of people who say we have to do more."

Kasuri said Afghanistan has not responded to its proposal.

"If they both think it will result in stopping traffic of terrorists or extremists, they should look at it," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, who recommended the two countries discuss the proposal.

"We would be pleased, at some point, to be part of that discussion," he added.

A senior Bush administration official told CNN that Rice discussed the offer briefly during her 75-minute meeting with Musharraf, but that the White House wanted to see more details before forming an opinion.

The senior official said the United States was pleased with Pakistani cooperation in patrolling the border, including participation in meetings with U.S. and Afghan military officials to discuss cutting off incursions. The official said Pakistan's help hunting al Qaeda has made Islamabad "a good partner."

"They are doing a lot," he said.

Earlier this month Pakistan, one of the largest Islamic countries, began a rapprochement with Israel with a meeting of foreign ministers from both countries, a move Kasuri said Rice indicated had "pleasantly surprised" her. (Full story)

Israeli and U.S. officials hope other Islamic and Arab nations will follow suit.

Kasuri said Islamabad decided to open diplomatic channels with Tel Aviv, saying Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's withdrawal from Gaza was worthy of recognition. But the gesture stopped short of formalizing relations.

"We will monitor the progress on the creation of a viable Palestinian state, and our future actions will be guided by that," Kasuri said.

Tom DiDonato, Andrea Koppel and Elise Labott contributed to this report.

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