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Blair, Musharraf meet amid anti-terror fallout

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LONDON, England (CNN) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Pakistani counterpart have been meeting amid fallout from a leaked intelligence report that says the war on terror is acting like "a recruiting sergeant for extremists."

The report comes just days after the release of a declassified U.S. intelligence document that said the war in Iraq was "cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement."

Thursday's talks between Blair and President Gen. Pervez Musharraf at the British PM's country residence west of London were expected to be "frosty," given the report's other main contention that Pakistan's intelligence services has direct links to the Taliban.

The new report, published by the BBC, is expected to add to a growing rift between Musharraf and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The two leaders have recently been publicly critical of each other's handling of the war against terror.

On Wednesday, they met with U.S. President George W. Bush in Washington in an effort to resolve their differences. There were no reports of any progress made during the talks. (Full story)

On Thursday, the British Ministry of Defense -- referring to the leaked report as "academic research notes" -- said it did not represent the views of the MoD or the government. "To represent it as such is deeply irresponsible," the MoD said in a statement.

The BBC quoted the report as saying: "The wars in Afghanistan and particularly Iraq have not gone well and are progressing slowly towards an, as yet, unspecified and uncertain result.

"The war in Iraq has acted as a recruiting sergeant for extremists from across the Muslim world."

The BBC also quoted the report as saying the "al Qaeda ideology has taken root within the Muslim world and Muslim populations within Western countries.

"Iraq has served to radicalize an already disillusioned youth and al Qaeda has given them the will, intent, purpose and ideology to act."

According to the BBC, the report blames Pakistan for a failure to win the war on terror and suggests that Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI, indirectly backs the Taliban.

The author of the report is thought to be linked to the British secret intelligence service, have a military background and be involved in anti-terrorism strategy, the BBC said.

"We can expect a pretty frosty start to this meeting," CNN's European Politcal Editor Robin Oakley.

"This report is embarrassing for Blair too," said Oakley, given Blair's strong support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq and ongoing military operation in Afghanistan.

In its statement, the MoD said "the author is furious that his notes have been willfully misrepresented" in a manner that makes them appear to represent the views of the MoD or the government.

"Indeed, he suspects that they have been released to the BBC precisely in the hope that they would cause damage to our relations with Pakistan," the statement said.

According to the BBC, the report blames Pakistan for a failure to win the war on terror and suggests that Pakistan's intelligence service, the ISI, indirectly backs the Taliban.

The MoD statement comes to the defense of Islamabad.

"Pakistan is a key ally in our efforts to combat international terrorism and her security forces have made considerable sacrifices in tackling al Qaeda and the Taliban. We are working closely with Pakistan to tackle the root causes of terrorism and extremism."

The U.S. intelligence report, released Tuesday, said Islamist terrorists are adapting to global counterterrorism efforts, as the "jihadist movement" is becoming more decentralized and spawning offshoot organizations with anti-American agendas. (Full story)

The report also said the Iraq war had become a "cause celebre for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement."

Governments exchange blame

Meanwhile, the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan have been accusing each 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. (Watch President Karzai emphasize the need to fight terrorism -- 2:20 Video)

"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)

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.

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." (Watch Karzai calmly fend off accusations that he's behaving like an 'ostrich' -- 13:22 Video)

Pervez Musharraf arrives with his wife, Sehba, at 10 Downing Street during a previous visit.



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