Crawford/Texas, Dec 29 : US President George Bush convened a meeting of his national security advisers to discuss the situation in Pakistan following the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
The meeting of the National Security Council was held via secure video conference since Bush is spending the rest of the year at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said.
The hour-long meeting included Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defence Secretary Robert Gates, CIA Director Michael Hayden and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.
"The President received a briefing from the intelligence community as well as from United States Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson, who is in Islamabad," Stanzel said.
"Bush told his senior national security team that the US needs to support democracy in Pakistan and help Pakistan in its struggle against extremism and terrorism," he added.
Stanzel said that US intelligence is still trying to determine whether or not al Qaeda operatives were involved in the assassination of Benazir.
"There have been many claims of responsibility. Our intelligence community is still looking into it," he told reporters.
A foreign news agency quoted US officials as saying that while Benazir's death complicates American efforts to broker reconciliation between the opposition and Musharraf, her passing is unlikely to prompt any major strategy shift or cuts in billions of dollars in US aid.
Signing a condolence book for Benazir at the Pakistan Embassy in Washington, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice underlined the importance of keeping the democratic reform alive.
Meanwhile, US Senator Hillary Clinton called for an independent, international probe into Benazir Bhutto's murder, saying the Musharraf regime had no credibility.
"I'm calling for a full, independent, international investigation," the CNN quoted Hillary, as saying.
She suggested that the probe could be along the lines of the international investigation that followed the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri in 2005. (ANI)
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