France seeks explanation of Pakistan Bin Laden role
France's foreign minister said Tuesday he was not convinced Osama bin Laden could go undetected in Pakistan until his death and would ask Pakistan's prime minister to explain at an impending meeting.
"I find it a little difficult to imagine that the presence of someone like bin Laden in a big compound in a relatively small town could go completely unnoticed," Alain Juppe said, ahead of a dinner in Paris with Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.
"I will ask Mr Gilani this evening... to explain how things happened and so we will have a dialogue which I hope will be enlightening," Juppe said.
"Pakistan's position lacks clarity in our view, I hope that we will have more clarity," he added, after US forces swooped on bin Laden's lair in the well-to-do town of Abbottabad that is also home to an elite military academy.
Gilani was also due to meet with France's President Nicolas Sarkozy and Prime Minister Francois Fillon on Wednesday.
Gilani defended the country's record on terrorism in an interview with AFP in Islamabad, fending off mounting suspicion about how the West's most-wanted man lived apparently undetected in easy reach of the Pakistani capital.
He insisted the "entire nation is united on one platform to fight against extremism and terrorism" -- despite strongholds of homegrown and foreign militants in the mountains on its lawless border with Afghanistan.
US lawmakers have demanded that Pakistan explain how bin Laden went undetected, but President Barack Obama has stopped short of questioning Washington's partnership with Pakistan.
Juppe said: "We have often tended to talk about Pakistan or the Pakistani authorities as a whole, but perhaps their cohesion is not as great as we may think."
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari defended his country against the criticisms, but made no direct comment on alleged intelligence failures.
"A decade of cooperation and partnership between the United States and Pakistan led up to the elimination of Osama bin Laden," he wrote in an op-ed for The Washington Post.
© 2011 AFP