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Bush lauds help given by Pakistan

Washington President Bush on Saturday defended Pakistan’s cooperation in the hunt for Osama bin Laden despite the inability of U.S. and Pakistani troops to find the al Qaeda leader who, Bush once declared, was wanted dead or alive.

The trail has gone cold in the more than three years since U.S. forces toppled the Taliban, bin Laden’s patrons in Afghanistan, after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Bin Laden, who masterminded the strikes, is believed to be hiding in the wild mountainous region along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Oval Office meeting between Bush and President Pervez Musharraf came just days after Pakistan’s army said it was pulling out of one important area along the border. Still, Bush had nothing but praise for Pakistan and Musharraf as critical to the search and the overall fight against terrorism.

Musharraf succeeded in securing a strong commitment from Bush that the United States would take a more active role in the Mideast.

Afterward, Musharraf told reporters that Bush had agreed that settling the Middle East conflict “is the core issue, the core at fighting terrorism.” A senior Bush administration official, however, said Bush did not go that far.

Bag with explosives lost at Paris airport

Paris Police at Paris’ top airport lost track of a passenger’s bag in which plastic explosives were placed to train bomb-sniffing dogs, police said Saturday. Warned that the bag may have been on any of nearly 90 flights from Charles de Gaulle, authorities searched planes upon arrival in Los Angeles and New York.

French police said the explosives were harmless and there was no chance of their going off, since no detonators were connected to them.

More than 300 passengers were evacuated and their luggage searched when their Air France flight from Charles de Gaulle arrived in Los Angeles late Friday, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration said

Two Air France flights and one American Airlines flight to Paris were also searched in New York City, TSA spokesman Norm Brewer said. No explosives were found on any of the flights.

French police at Charles de Gaulle deliberately placed up to 5 ounces of plastic explosives into a passenger’s luggage Friday evening, a police spokesman said.

Bomb kills 11 on patrol in Kashmir

Srinagar, India A remote-controlled roadside bomb blew up an army patrol car in a pre-dawn attack today in the violence-torn territory of Kashmir, killing an army major and 10 other men, police said.

The powerful blast in Wachi village hurled the car skyward and left a 10-foot wide crater in the road, police officer Imtiyaz Ahmed told the Associated Press by telephone from the site of the blast.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but police blamed Islamic militants fighting Indian security forces in Kashmir. The rebels have been fighting since 1989 to carve out a separate homeland or merge Kashmir with India’s neighbor Pakistan.

Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan but each claims the region in its entirety. They have fought two wars over Kashmir since their independence from British rule in 1947.