The US president says he is leaving to his successor a stronger anti-terrorism partnership with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Bush stands by terror record
CARLISLE, Pa // The US president George W Bush said yesterday he was leaving to his successor a stronger anti-terrorism partnership with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia forged in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. For Mr Bush, who leaves office on Jan 20, the 2001 attacks were a defining moment of his presidency. In a speech at the US Army War College, he praised the coalition of countries that sided with Washington to fight terrorism. "We will leave behind a strong coalition of more than 90 nations composing almost half the world who are committed to combating terror and sharing intelligence and keeping our citizens safe," Mr Bush told War College students, who are studying military and intelligence methodology. "This coalition includes Pakistan. A country that was a supporter of the Taliban before Sept 11 today is a strong partner of the United States," Mr Bush said. While the Bush administration formed a close relationship with former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, relations between with the new government in Islamabad are still developing. Strains emerged over Pakistan's anger at US air strikes on its territory near the Afghanistan border, which serves as a base for Taliban and al Qa'eda-linked fighters. The US has also pressed Pakistan to assist its nuclear rival India after attacks in Mumbai in which some of the attackers were suspected of ties to groups in Pakistan. The US-Saudi relationship is another delicate one President-elect Barack Obama will inherit next month. US ties with Saudi Arabia deteriorated in the aftermath of the Sept 11 attacks and the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, which leaders of the two countries have tried to mend. Despite improved security co-operation, Mr Bush's pleas for Opec relief from soaring oil went largely ignored when prices were hitting new highs. Now with oil prices declining, Opec yesterday decided to cut oil production, which was criticised by the White House. Mr Bush praised Saudi relations, saying: "A nation that produced 15 of the 9/11 hijackers now serves as a staunch ally in the war on terror." Mr Bush said improved intelligence had choked off terrorist financing and derailed plots. He also touted better CIA on-the-ground intelligence and a programme to interrogate key terrorism leaders. "Like the struggle against communism during the Cold War, the struggle against terror will be a generational conflict, one that will continue long beyond my presidency," Mr Bush said. "As my administration leaves office next month, we will leave behind the institutions and tools our country needs to prevail in the long struggle ahead," he said. * Reuters