Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with President Bush in an effort to allay the war of words between the two leaders. Former officials discuss tensions between the neighboring countries, problems with Taliban fighting at the border and the U.S. war on terror.
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They may be neighbors and American allies in the war on terror, but Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf have hardly been best of friends. President Bush brought the leaders together for a White House working dinner last night. His goal: to bolster their cooperation against a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.
GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: We've got a lot of challenges facing us. All of us must protect our countries, but at the same time we all must work to make the world a more hopeful place.
Longstanding differences between the two countries over how to combat the Taliban surfaced this week, as both leaders appeared in separate news interviews, including those on CNN's "The Situation Room." Musharraf accused Karzai of ignoring Afghanistan's role in halting terror.
PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, President of Pakistan: He is not oblivious. He knows everything, but he's purposely denying, turning a blind eye like an ostrich. He doesn't want to tell the world what is the facts for his own personal reasons. This is what I think.
HAMID KARZAI, President of Afghanistan: He's right to say that I know the facts. I indeed know the facts. But I also know a lot of facts in Pakistan. And that's why I'm pleading with President Musharraf that, for the sake of security for all of us and for our allies, it is extremely important to pay serious attention and take action against some of the places called madrassas that are not madrassas, that are training extremists full of hatred for the rest of the world.
Their words reflected growing differences between the two nations that share a 1,500-mile-long mountainous border. Pakistan's government and the country's pro-Taliban tribal leaders signed a deal earlier this month to stop terrorists from crossing the border into Afghanistan from the Pakistani area known as North Waziristan. In return, the province was granted more autonomy.
But according to a U.S. military spokesman today, attacks from North Waziristan and the tribal areas have actually increased since the agreement, contributing to what has become the bloodiest year yet since the U.S. and its allies invaded Afghanistan and ousted the Taliban after the 9/11 attacks.
A hundred and fifty nine NATO and coalition troops have been killed so far this year.