President Bush says he would authorize U.S. forces to track down Osama bin Laden inside Pakistan if he received reliable intelligence about where the al-Qaeda leader is hiding. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf says he does not want his nation's sovereignty violated, even by U.S. agents in pursuit of bin Laden.
In an interview on the cable television network CNN, President Bush said he would absolutely send U.S. forces into Pakistan to capture or kill bin Laden if firm intelligence pointed to his whereabouts.
“We would take the action necessary to bring him to justice.”
Mr. Bush told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he believes Pakistani President Musharraf is a strong ally in the fight against terrorism who would like to bring al-Qaeda to justice. But the president says it is a hostile territory in the remote Pakistani / Afghan border area where bin Laden is thought to be hiding.
American forces are in Afghanistan but are not authorized to conduct operations across the border in Pakistan.
Reacting to the interview with President Bush, President Musharraf told reporters at the United Nations that he would not like to see U.S. troops enter his country in pursuit of bin Laden.
“We would not like to allow that at all. We will do it ourselves. We would like to do it ourselves.”
President Musharraf says there have been many occasions where Pakistani forces have located al-Qaeda or Taliban activity and have struck with full force very successfully.
President Bush and President Musharraf are expected to discuss the continuing hunt for bin Laden during talks Friday at the White House.