Rice Urges Pakistan to Clamp Down on Militants Along Border

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is calling on Pakistan to intensify efforts to combat Taliban militants who use its border areas to launch attacks against Afghanistan. Speaking to reporters in the western Australian city of Perth Friday, Rice said the militants cannot be allowed to organize and plan their attacks from the northwest frontier area, despite its difficult terrain. From Sydney, Phil Mercer reports.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has suggested that a surge in violence by the Taliban in Afghanistan had its roots in the lawless tribal areas along the border with Pakistan.

The authorities in Islamabad were urged to do more to bring the region under its control.

Rice insists that despite the hostile terrain, the Pakistanis must do more.

"There's an uptick in terrorism, not just against forces but against the Afghan people and in that regard everybody needs to do more but Pakistan does need to do more. That border, we understand that it's difficult, we understand that the northwest frontier area is difficult but militants cannot be allowed to organise there and to plan there and to engage across the border and so more needs to be done."

This blunt message to Islamabad comes just a few days before Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is to meet US President George Bush in Washington.

The Pakistani government has said it will not allow its soil to be used by extremists or for them to launch attacks into neighbouring Afghanistan. It has also resisted suggestions that American or other foreign troops should be deployed in the region to combat the Taliban.

On an 18-hour stopover in Western Australia, Condoleezza Rice received strong support from her Australian counterpart.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith says the international community should redouble its efforts in Afghanistan.

"It is an issue that has regional and international community consequences," Smith said. "There is no doubt that the current international hotbed of terrorism is in that area, is in the Pakistan border area in Afghanistan. So, we have raised the border issue with the Pakistan government as we have with our ally the United States and other friends in Afghanistan in particular the British."

US Secretary of State Rice also said in Perth that there was still time for the Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peace deal by the end of this year ahead of trilateral talks in Washington next week between both sides and American mediators.