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Naval Chief: US Has No Plan to Attack Iran
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Visiting US Naval Chief Admiral Michael G. Mullen Monday rejected any plan to attack Iran and said that efforts should be made through diplomatic channels.

"There is no plan for an attack on Iran," the US chief of naval operations told a group of reporters in Pakistani capital Islamabad.

"We have had a strong naval presence in this part of the world since for many decades and we have recently added some ships that is meant than anything else to provide reassurance to our friends to show continued commitment to the area," Mullen said.

"This is a vital region over in particular this part of the world over half of world's population is here and the goal is to really continue to provide the strength and stability that we need to ensure that it remains quite and peaceful," he said.

"There is absolutely no, I am aware of no plans that involve any kind of attack on Iran and that all the efforts that need to all efforts with respect to Iran, I believe need to be handle through the diplomatic channels," Mullen insisted.

About the recent naval exercises at the North Arabian sea jointly participated by 43 countries, Mullen said that it particularly focused on dealing with challenges of terrorism, besides strengthening relationship between the navies of different countries.
He termed it as a part of global maritime partnership, which also played its positive role during tsunami relief in Indonesia.

He declined to call these exercises as al Qaeda-specific preparations and said that its overall aim was at targeting global terrorism, which was the biggest challenge of the time.

On Pakistan's desire to obtain US warships, Mullen said that he had taken the request seriously. However, with no frigates available at present, the provision of other equipment including maritime patrolling aircraft would also be considered, he said.

He mentioned computer-based training for the Pakistani navy as another effort by the United States for strengthening ties between two countries.

Mullen also spoke high of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's commitment in the war on terror, and said that he had been a terrific and courageous leader in challenging times.

"I have no doubt on President Musharraf's commitment in the war against terrorism ... He knows what is best for his country," he added.

He termed partnership with the Pakistan navy "vital" for continuing the long-term war against terrorism, besides maintaining stability in the region.

"The United States is very committed for the two navies to work together against the war on terrorism and also for dealing with other challenges in the region," Mullen said.

(Xinhua News Agency April 17, 2007)

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