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the Los Angeles Times

Pakistan Leader Says Talk of US Strikes Hurts Terror Fight

Laura King

KARACHI, Pakistan - President General Pervez Musharraf said yesterday that suggestions the United States might carry out unilateral attacks against Al Qaeda fighters on Pakistani soil were counterproductive.

The Pakistani leader's comments, his first public expression of displeasure on the subject, came as Pakistani troops struck two insurgent hide-outs in the North Waziristan tribal area. Ten suspected militants were killed in the raids, military officials said, and two Pakistani troops died in separate incidents along the border with Afghanistan.

Pakistani forces employed gunships and heavy artillery in the fighting, which was among the heaviest yet during a nearly month-old government offensive in the tribal areas.

The raids targeted a pair of insurgent-occupied compounds about 10 miles west of Miram Shah, the main town in North Waziristan.

Relations between the Bush administration and Pakistan, a key American ally in the war in Afghanistan, have been tense since a US National Intelligence Estimate in July said Al Qaeda militants were believed to have established a safe haven in the semiautonomous tribal areas, a belt of rugged territory abutting the border.

On Monday, President Bush said after meeting with Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, at Camp David that the United States would strike at Al Qaeda figures inside Pakistan if it had solid intelligence about their whereabouts but did not say whether Pakistan would be consulted.

Musharraf's criticism of such comments came during a meeting in the port city of Karachi with Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois and the new US ambassador to Pakistan, Anne W. Patterson.

"The president pointed out that certain recent US statements were counterproductive to the close cooperation and coordination between the two countries in combating the threat of terrorism," said a statement released by the Foreign Office.

Copyright 2007 Los Angeles Times

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