Britain pledges aid to Pakistan
PM announces $83m to help stabilise Pakistan's volatile border with Afghanistan.
Last Modified: 03 Dec 2009 11:36 GMT
Britain has called on Pakistan to root out fighters on its side of the border with Afghanistan [AFP]

Gordon Brown, Britain's prime minister, has pledged $83m to help stabilise Pakistan's volatile border with Afghanistan, after a meeting with Yousuf Razi Gilani, his Pakistani counterpart.

Brown, who has lobbied the country to do more to find al-Qaeda leaders believed to be hiding in the border region, said the money would go towards helping Pakistan re-establish control in the area.

"I'm pleased today to confirm my offer of a further 50 million pounds to back your plans for long-term stabilization of the border areas," he said at a press conference in London on Thursday.

"The international community expects much of Pakistan. What we've all got to do is work together [and] step up our efforts," he added.

But Gilani, responding to questions about Pakistan's efforts to track down Osama bin Laden, said he did not believe the al-Qaeda leader was hiding in his country.

"I doubt the information which you are giving is correct because I don't think Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan," he said.

Brown added that aid being provided by Britain would also go into reconstruction, education and the relocation of people displaced in the fighting.

Al-Qaeda action

Last weekend Brown called on Pakistan to step up its action against al-Qaeda and hunt down bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri, still at large eight years after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US.

Gilani also called for more clarity on US plans to boost troop levels in Afghanistan, saying he was looking into the implications of the troop surge announced by Barack Obama, the US president, on Tuesday.

"We need more clarity on it, and when we get more clarity on it we can see what we can implement on that plan," he said.

Pakistan has raised fears that an influx of soldiers into Afghanistan could again push fighters over the border, destabilising an already-troubled region.

The US and Britain have urged Pakistan to root out fighters already on its side of the border, in a lawless area from which they frequently attack Nato and Afghan troops.

Obama said in a major speech this week that he was ordering 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan to counter the Taliban. He said a cancer had taken root in Pakistan's border region with its neighbour, and promised US help to end it.

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