France, EU offer Pakistan help in Bhutto probe
( AFP ) - France and the European Union on Wednesday offered Pakistan help in investigating the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said.
Kouchner, the first high-ranking foreign official to visit Pakistan since opposition leader Bhutto was killed at a campaign rally last week, met President Pervez Musharraf to offer the help of France and the 27-nation EU bloc.
Pakistani government officials have rejected calls for an international investigation into her killing but have left the door open for assistance from outside the country.
"Today we proposed to President Musharraf to provide French or European experts," Kouchner said after meeting the president in Rawalpindi, the garrison city where Bhutto was slain in a gun and suicide attack.
"Mr Musharraf responded that the idea was interesting," he said.
The minister also delivered a letter from French President Nicolas Sarkozy which he said expressed his country's solidarity with Pakistan in the wake of the "horrible crime."
He said the letter also underlined Sarkozy's "support for what must be democratic efforts in the continuation of the election process as well as the fight against terrorism and extremism."
An AFP reporter who was present said Musharraf quickly read the letter and told Kouchner: "I totally agree with this."
The minister met officials from Bhutto's party later in the day and placed flowers at the site where she was killed last Thursday.
"We need certainly a sort of international cooperation with Pakistan in this inquiry," Kouchner said as he headed to Rawalpindi airport to leave the country.