France 'reassured' over Pakistan's Bin Laden role

2nd May 2011, Comments 0 comments

France's foreign minister said Monday the killing of Osama bin Laden soothed "doubt" over Pakistan's will to fight terrorism, saying it must have helped the United States hunt him down.

"We had this doubt for a long time" about Pakistan's commitment to fighting terrorism, the minister, Alain Juppe, told reporters in Bordeaux where he also serves as mayor.

"We had wondered about the ambiguity of the Pakistani authorities in the fight against the Taliban in Afghanistan."

Taliban fighters are believed to hide in remote areas of Pakistan from where they can cross the Afghan border.

But "what happened in this operation is reassuring to us," Juppe said, referring to bin Laden's killing.

"I cannot imagine that the American forces could have intervened" without the cooperation of the Pakistani authorities to swoop on bin Laden, who was shot dead by US special forces at a villa near Islamabad, Juppe added.

Until now, bin Laden had always managed to evade US forces, despite a $25 million (16.7 million euro) bounty, and was widely thought to be hiding on the Afghan-Pakistani border.

His presence in Abbottabad -- a leafy town that is home to an elite Pakistani military academy -- raised new questions about the Islamabad government's zeal for prosecuting the war on terror.

US officials insisted Pakistan was not informed about the operation in advance.

France has about 4,000 soldiers deployed under NATO command with ISAF international forces in Afghanistan in the conflict against Taliban insurgents.

"It is very important that Pakistan be united with us in the action we take, particularly in Afghanistan, against terrorist bases. It is one of the conditions for success," Juppe said.

"The fact that bin Laden was forced to flee Afghanistan to take refuge in Pakistan... is a sign that the pressure we are applying is having results."

© 2011 AFP

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