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Bush meets with squabbling anti-terror allies

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Saying that allies must "strategize together," U.S. President George W. Bush appealed to two South Asian leaders Wednesday to put aside their increasingly public differences in the war against terror.

Bush, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf met Wednesday evening in Washington. Karzai and Musharraf have been outspoken about how well the other is fighting terrorism.

Bush described both men as "strong leaders who have an understanding of the world in which we live. They understand that the forces of moderation are being challenged by extremists and radicals."

"All of us must protect our countries, but at the same time we all must work to make the world a more hopeful place," Bush said before adjourning to dinner. "And so today's dinner is a chance for us to strategize together, to talk about the need to cooperate to make sure that people have got a hopeful future."

Comments made by Musharraf and Karzai this week, however, suggested the dinner would be more than a friendly breaking of bread. Bush acknowledged as much Tuesday.

"You know," Bush said at a Tuesday news conference, "it'll be interesting for me to watch the body language of these two leaders to determine how tense things are."

Karzai said, "I'll be good." (Watch President Karzai emphasize the need to fight terrorism -- 2:20 Video)

Each government has accused the other of not doing enough to fight terrorism or capture Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader who is thought to be hiding somewhere along the porous, mountainous Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

"He is not oblivious. He knows everything but he is openly denying -- turning a blind eye like an ostrich. He doesn't want to tell the world what is the fact for his own personal reasons. This is what I think," Musharraf said Tuesday of Karzai. (Watch Musharraf defend Pakistan's efforts to find bin Laden -- 10:15 Video)

Karzai responded in a CNN interview Wednesday that Musharraf should do something about the religious schools or purported religious schools that "are training extremists full of hatred for the rest of the world."

Musharraf is "not doing enough at all and I want all of us to take more action," Karzai said. "There are things that we have to do in Afghanistan. He is right. I am very much aware of what is going on in Afghanistan. We are a state that was weakened by years of destruction and war and indifference.

"The Afghan people are concerned about improving schools, education and health care, and therefore cannot be accused of aiming to destroy themselves.

"Somebody else must be doing it and that someone else is the sanctuary in Pakistan to terrorists," Karzai said. (Watch Karzai calmly fend off accusations that he's behaving like an 'ostrich' -- 13:22 Video)

The two leaders also disagree over the whereabouts of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the exiled Taliban leader. Karzai says the terror leader is in Quetta, Pakistan, but Musharraf says Karzai is trying to "throw the blame on Pakistan."

Afghanistan merely wants Pakistani help in finding Omar and other terrorists who are the subjects of CIA manhunts, Karzai said.

"Over the years, they were trained in Pakistan at those madrasas," Karzai said, referring to religious schools. "They were given resources in Pakistan. They were brought up through some help from the establishment of Pakistan in the past 30 years, as we were fighting the Soviets and consequent to that."

Pakistan has benefited from the international presence in Afghanistan, as their exports to the country during the era of the Taliban -- "their friends, their buddies, their clients" -- was only $25 million, and is now about $1.3 billion, Karzai said.

"Therefore, we are trying to tell them that what they may perceive as in their interest -- that is, the use of extremism within their country and outside of their country as an instrument of policy -- is not good for them," Karzai said.

Asked if Musharraf was behaving like an ostrich, Karzai flatly said no and relayed Musharraf's words to him when he was visiting Kabul, "Don't doubt my intentions -- doubt my capabilities."

The United States, Afghanistan and the international community "have to help him raise those capabilities," he said.

In Musharraf's memoir, "In the Line of Fire," the Pakistani president accuses Kabul of disseminating anti-Pakistan propaganda and spreading the false notion that Pakistan is abetting terrorists.

"The Afghan government needs to focus more on improving security inside its own country instead of blaming others," Musharraf wrote.

Karzai, in response, conceded that Afghanistan needs to bolster its security institutions, but he did not back off his claim that Islamabad is providing sanctuary to terrorists.

"We also have to do things in Pakistan to end those sanctuaries, to eliminate those sanctuaries and to stop places where -- acting in the name of religious schools but actually training terrorists and preaching hatred to the rest of the world," he said.

Afghanistan is willing to set aside its differences with its neighbor and work together if Pakistan is prepared to offer "good intentions, sincerity, confidence and verification," the Afghan president said.

Musharraf said in his Tuesday interview, however, that Afghanistan and Pakistan were starkly different theaters in the war on terror, hence his bristling over a Bush remark that U.S. troops would enter Pakistan if they had good intelligence bin Laden was hiding there.

By comparison, U.S. troops operate freely in Afghanistan.

"Please don't compare Pakistan with Afghanistan," Musharraf said. "Pakistan is a very, very stable country. We have a strong government. We have a strong military. We have a strong intelligence system, and everything in Afghanistan has broken down.

"We don't want our sovereignty to be violated, whereas in Afghanistan, there was an issue of terrorism in Afghanistan after 9/11 and law and order was broken down."

Bush said Tuesday that both leaders had parallel goals in the war on terror and he didn't believe any "perceived" tension between the leaders would impede their governments' abilities to help in the endeavor.

"It's in President Karzai's interest to see bin Laden brought to justice. It is in President Musharraf's interests to see bin Laden brought to justice. Our interests coincide," Bush said.


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