Britain backs 'vital' Pakistani advance on Swat

LONDON, May 23, 2009 (AFP) - British Prime Minister Gordon Brown voiced support Saturday for Pakistan's "vital" drive against Taliban militants, even as government troops entered the capital of the northwest Swat valley.

In a statement shortly before the Pakistani advance was announced, Brown pledged more aid to support people displaced by the fighting, and urged other countries to rally to help Islamabad.

"The Pakistani government is engaged in a vital drive to assert its authority over extremist militants who have rejected Pakistan's constitution, parliament and judiciary," he said.

"The UK is committed to the success and prosperity of Pakistan and it is right that we -- and the whole international community -- should support this effort," added Brown, who held talks with President Asif Ali Zardari last week.

His comments came as the Pakistani military said that troops had entered the main town of Swat and were fighting in the streets on a mission to capture the city from Taliban control.

Brown noted that his government had announced a further 10 million pounds (15.9 million dollars, 11.4 million euros) in aid for Pakistan on Friday, bringing its contribution to 22 million pounds.

"We are ready to do more to help displaced persons in the most extreme of situations and we want to encourage other countries to do so also," he said.

"I call on international donors to follow the British and American lead and to respond to the appeals of the Pakistani government and the United Nations to provide additional emergency humanitarian assistance.

"Pakistan faces an enormous challenge and deserves the international community's full support," he said.

Source: AFP

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