PARIS – Pakistan's military ruler said Thursday that continuing the U.S.-led bombing campaign through the Muslim holy month of Ramadan will have "a negative fallout in the entire Muslim world."
Gen. Pervez Musharraf, a key Muslim ally in the U.S. military campaign in Afghanistan, said he would take up the issue with President Bush when he meets him in New York this weekend.
"My means of pressure will be the strength of my argument," Musharraf told a news conference in Paris, where he is meeting French officials in an attempt to shore up Western economic aid to his country. He was to travel later Thursday to Britain, and then to New York.
Continuing the bombing through Ramadan, which begins in about 10 days, "will have an adverse effect in Muslim countries," Musharraf said, speaking in English. "It will have a negative fallout in the entire Muslim world."
Musharraf also said Pakistan has "no intention" of breaking diplomatic relations with the Taliban regime, which is harboring Usama bin Laden, the top suspect in the Sept. 11 terror attacks. He said it was "essential" these ties be maintained.
The ties provide "a useful diplomatic window," he said. "Diplomatic interaction is useful and fruitful and accepted by the coalition."
Asked whether Pakistan knows bin Laden's whereabouts, Musharraf said: "No. We would like to find that out."
Musharraf spoke after talks with Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. Meeting Wednesday evening with President Jacques Chirac, he pressed the French leader for debt relief and an unspecified amount of financial aid, according to Chirac's spokeswoman, Catherine Colonna.
Pakistan quickly sided with the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks, despite its ties to neighboring Afghanistan.
Musharraf said his nation would remain actively involved in the coalition, and pledged "total cooperation" in sharing intelligence, considered critical to the U.S.-led military effort.
Pakistan has already won the lifting of U.S. economic sanctions and various pledges of debt relief as part of a series of measures aimed at propping up its sluggish economy.