Cheney Pushes Pakistan to Fight Al-Qaida Vice President Dick Cheney visits Pakistan, seeking help in countering al-Qaida's efforts to regroup in the region. However, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf insists his forces have already done as much as possible against extremists in their territory.
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Cheney Pushes Pakistan to Fight Al-Qaida

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Cheney Pushes Pakistan to Fight Al-Qaida

Cheney Pushes Pakistan to Fight Al-Qaida

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MELISSA BLOCK, Host:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.

MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

And I'm Michele Norris.

BLOCK: do more to fight terrorism or risk losing financial aid now that Democrats control Congress.

Cheney made stops in Pakistan and Afghanistan, both countries that are facing up resurgence by the Taliban and al-Qaida. The visits were kept off the vice president's public schedule, and came at the end of a five-day trip to the Far East.

NPR's Don Gonyea reports.

DON GONYEA: The famously secretive vice president was unusually public during the first few days of this trip. There were interviews with TV and print, visits with troops in Guam, a meeting with the new prime minister in Japan, and a session with an old friend of the administration - Australian Prime Minister John Howard.

Along the way, Cheney has been talking and talking tough, accusing Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Congressman Jack Murtha of pushing a policy that would validate al-Qaida strategy. In Sydney, he described what would happen if the U.S. were to pull out of Iraq.

DICK CHENEY: Having tasted victory in Iraq, jihadists would look for new missions. Many would head for Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban. Others would set out for capitals across the Middle East, spreading more sorrow and discord as they eliminate the dissenters and work to undermine moderate governments.

GONYEA: Given that focus, it should not have been a surprise when the vice president made a detour on the way home, or when the more secretive Cheney reemerged. He flew into Pakistan on a plane bearing none of the highly recognizable United States of America markings of the usual Air Force 2. He headed immediately to a meeting with President Musharraf at the palace in Islamabad. There was a brief photo-op, but no news conference.

A Musharraf aide, speaking anonymously, told reporters that Cheney expressed great apprehension about al-Qaida and its increased presence in the remote, tribal regions of Pakistan where Pakistani forces last year struck a deal with tribal leaders. That Pakistani aide also said Cheney warned of a spring offensive by the Taliban.

Back at the White House, Press Secretary Tony Snow seemed determined, though, to downplay any suggestion of an ultimatum.

TONY SNOW: We have not been saying it's a tough message. What we're saying is we're having a - the vice president is meeting with President Musharraf because we do understand the importance of making even greater progress against al-Qaida, against the Taliban. It is important not only for the safety and security of peoples in Pakistan, but obviously within Afghanistan as well.

And it's a - it's an important element in the larger war on terror.

GONYEA: From Islamabad, Cheney flew to Kabul, Afghanistan, but bad weather - including a heavy snowstorm - put his mission on hold. Any message, he hopes to deliver to President Hamid Karzai will have to wait now until tomorrow.

Don Gonyea, NPR News, the White House.

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