US might strike in Pakistan: White House

Published: Thursday July 19, 2007

The White House on Thursday refused to rule out striking at suspected terrorist targets inside Pakistan and would not say whether US forces would first seek permission from Islamabad.

Asked whether US President George W. Bush had ruled out US military action inside Pakistan, spokesman Tony Snow replied: "We never rule out any options, including striking actionable targets."

Asked whether Bush would first seek authorization from Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, Snow told reporters: "Those are matters that are best not discussed publicly."

Washington in recent days has sharply criticized Musharraf's truce with leaders in Pakistan's tribal areas, where Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants were believed hiding, calling on him to take aggressive military action.

And Bush's top counter-terrorism adviser at the White House recently suggested that the United States did not get all of the cooperation it hoped for from Pakistan in the global war on terrorism.

At the same time, the White House has been praising Musharraf personally.

"President Musharraf has put his life on the line and has been a very important ally in the war on terror," Snow said as Bush traveled here to make remarks on the federal budget.

"It's also clear that Taliban and al Qaeda, in the northwest territories and the federally administered tribal areas, have begun to put on operations that threaten the government of Pakistan itself," he added.

"President Musharraf, having tried one approach, in terms of dealing with the tribal leaders, is now going to have to be more aggressive and is being more aggressive moving forces into the region to deal with the security problems there," he said.