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President Bush says he is confident Pakistani leader can crack down on militants near Afghan border

President Bush says he is confident Pakistani leader can crack down on militants near Afghan border

President George W. Bush said Thursday said he is confident in the ability of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to crack down on militants at the Afghan border and cooperate with the U.S.
He said he expected Musharraf to take "swift action if there is actionable intelligence inside his country." Bush refused to address whether the U.S. troops would go into Pakistan without permission from leaders there.
"We spend a lot of time with the leadership in Pakistan talking about what we will do with actionable intelligence," Bush said at a news conference before leaving on vacation. "Am I confident they (terrorists) will be brought to justice? My answer is, `Yes I am.'"
Musharraf, a key ally in Washington's fight against terrorism, is under growing U.S. pressure. But the Pakistani leader is under considerable pressure at home too.
He has seen dwindling popular support amid a failed bid to oust the country's chief justice, Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry _ an independent-minded judge likely to rule on expected legal challenges to Musharraf's bid for re-election to another five-year term. Musharraf also has been beset by rising violence in the country, particularly following an army raid to end the takeover of the Red Mosque in Islamabad, an operation that left more than 100 people dead.
Speculation that an emergency could be imminent grew after Musharraf on Wednesday abruptly pulled out of a meeting in Kabul with more than 600 Pakistani and Afghan tribal leaders, phoning Afghan President Hamid Karzai to say he could not attend because of "engagements" in Islamabad.
The president described Iran as "a destabilizing influence in the Middle East."
Noting that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was in Iran Thursday, Bush said he hoped his message would be the same as the United States' _ that Tehran should halt the export of sophisticed explosive devices into Iraq or "there will be consequences."
He did not say what those consequences would be.
On the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the president pointed the finger at other nations. The U.S. cannot close the controversial facility until other countries agree to take the more than 350 people still there, he said.
"A lot of people don't want killers in their midst," Bush said.
The United States is determined to make sure the worst of them are tried for their alleged crimes, the president said.
The United States is determined to make sure the worst of them are tried for their alleged crimes, the president said.
The August news conference has become a tradition for Bush, a move designed to deal with unfinished business and have the last word before heading away from Washington for vacation and travel.
Bush opened by announcing that he had signed legislation to promote math and science skills and develop the technology needed to compete in the global economy.
The measure calls for spending $33.6 billion (euro24.47 billion) over the next three years for science, technology, engineering and mathematics research and education programs across U.S. government agencies.
The session was Bush's first full news conference since July 12 when he inaugurated the newly refurbished White House briefing room. Since then, he has had brief question-and-answer sessions with Britain's new prime minister, Gordon Brown, and Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai.
With Congress already out of town, Bush was leaving Washington right after the question-and-answer session for a three-night stay at his father's Atlantic oceanfront compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, where he is attending the wedding of a friend. On Saturday, Bush also will meet over lunch at his parents' home with France's new president, Nicolas Sarkozy. The French leader is vacationing at an estate on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire about 50 miles (80 kilometers) away.
The president is to return to the White House on Sunday and then head out the next day to spend most of the rest of the month at his Texas ranch and traveling.
Among Bush's scheduled outings from his ranch is a meeting with the leaders of Mexico and Canada Aug. 20-21 in Ottawa.