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Asia-pacific

US calls security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal 'adequate'

Text by FRANCE 24 (with wires)

Latest update : 2009-05-10

The head of US Central Command, General David Petraeus (pictured), says he is confident Pakistan's nuclear sites will not fall under Taliban control. Petraeus said he had faith that Pakistani security measures were "adequate".

US regional commander General David Petraeus expressed confidence Sunday that Pakistan's nuclear sites are secure from any attempted seizure by the Taliban.
   
"We have confidence in their security procedures and elements and believe that the security of those sites is adequate," the chief of US Central Command said on the "Fox News Sunday" program.
   

Petraeus welcomed what he described as a new mood of determination by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari's government to take on the Taliban, following White House talks between Zardari and President Barack Obama.
   
There was now a "degree of unanimity that there must be swift and effective action taken against the Taliban in Pakistan," he said, noting a shift of army troops from the border with India to the region under threat from the militia.
   
"This is a Pakistani fight, a Pakistani battle, with elements that ... threaten the very existence of the Pakistani state."
   
Petraeus said Al-Qaeda had been "back in business for years" and its senior leadership were at large "in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of that very rugged border region of western Pakistan just east of Afghanistan."
   
But he said there had been no occasion that required US troops to go in hot pursuit of militants over the border from Afghanistan into Pakistan.
   
"No. And I think we have been unequivocal in saying that this is not about us putting combat boots on the ground (in Pakistan)," he said in a separate interview with CNN.
   
During his Washington visit, Zardari said the violent Islamic insurgency did not pose a threat to his government's survival and insisted his country's nuclear arsenal was safe.
   
He received backing on the nuclear question from Obama, but some other top US officials including National Security Advisor James Jones have expressed concern.
 

In an NBC interview aired on Sunday, Zardari denied his nuclear-armed nation was on the verge of collapse.
   
"Is the state of Pakistan going to collapse?" Zardari said. "No. We are 180 million people. There the population is much, much more than the insurgents are," Zardari said, fending off a mounting clamor against his leadership from US lawmakers.

 

Date created : 2009-05-10

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