ALGIERS, July 17: President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Thursday said Pakistan would not keep any foreign suspect terrorist on its soil and would return them to their country of origin.

“Pakistan has absolutely zero interest in keeping any foreign national (suspect), in fact. When we catch any non-Pakistani suspect terrorist, we want to send him out as soon as possible,” he told reporters while wrapping up his two-day visit to Algeria.

Replying to a question, he said there were two problems in sending the apprehended terrorists to their respective countries. Firstly, the country of origin did not accept them as their people, and secondly, those caught did not disclose their actual identity as to which country they belonged to.

“Therefore those who do not give their identity land in a third country,” he said, but made it clear that Pakistan did not want to keep them unnecessarily.

Gen Musharraf assured the Algerian mediamen that Pakistan would hand over any Algerian suspect terrorist caught in Pakistan to the Algerian government.

Answering a question, President Musharraf said his government approached the country of the suspect origin and only with the consent of that government, the individual was handed over the third country.

The president, while replying to a question, said both Pakistan and Algeria had been victims of terrorism and reiterated Islamabad’s commitment to the fight out this menace.

BILATERAL TIES: Earlier in the day, President Gen Pervez Musharraf and his Algerian counterpart Abdul Aziz Bouteflika agreed to strengthen bilateral relations and boost their trade and commercial ties to benefit people of their countries.

Both the leaders held wide-ranging talks here on matters of bilateral, regional and global importance.

The one-on-one meeting between the two presidents, which lasted three hours, focused on bilateral ties, the Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan and the peace process in South Asia.

Briefing newsmen, Foreign Minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri said the president had later joined a meeting of two delegations, Pakistani and Algerian, headed by their respective foreign ministers.

The teams discussed a variety of subjects concerning geo-politics and geo-economics, covering regional and international issues, besides Arab Maghreb Union, Iraq, South Asia and the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), he said.

Mr Kasuri said the meeting had especially discussed the OIC role as well as ways and means to help Muslims regain their past glory.

The foreign minister said the suggestions of President Musharraf to help accelerate the process of scientific advancement and promote human resources in the Muslim world were also discussed. Meanwhile, Pakistan and Algeria have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for consultations on all important matters at their foreign ministers level. Mr Kasuri and his Algerian counterpart signed the pact.

They also signed an agree-ment for the promotion of cultural ties between the two countries. President Musharraf and Algerian President Bouteflika were also present on the occasion.

Gen Musharraf also visited a historical fort in Algiers, which was built during the Ottoman period and is the cultural centre of the Algerian capital.

BANQUET: On Wednesday night, the Algerian president requested Gen Musharraf to facilitate a just solution to a territorial dispute his country had with Morroco.

The dispute over the Western Sahara between Algeria and Morocco has long remained a source of friction between the two Maghreb states.

Speaking at a banquet held in the honour of Gen Musharraf at the Palais de la Culture, Mr Bouteflika said: “I see you (President Musharraf) as a messenger of peace. As you leave for Morroco, please, convey our greetings to our brethren there.”

MEETING WITH OTHER OFFICIALS: Gen Musharraf on Thursday called upon the Muslim Ummah to enhance mutual cooperation in various fields.

The president expressed these views during his meetings with Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, Chairman Senate Bersele and Speaker National Assembly Karim Younas, who separately called on him here this afternoon.

They discussed bilateral relations, economic cooperation and other subjects of mutual interest.

The president stressed the need to forge unity and enlarge the base of mutual cooperation in different fields among the OIC member states.

Gen Musharraf told the Algerian leadership that only advancement in the scientific field and optimum exploitation of natural resources could guarantee eradication of backwardness in Islamic countries to regain past glory.

BUSINESSMEN: Speaking to businessmen on Thursday, Gen Musharraf said Pakistan offered the most business-friendly environment with a “win-win” situation for investors and invited the Algerian entrepreneurs to invest in fields of their choice.

“All economic indictors today are positive and the country is at a take-off point,” he told them.

He said a series of positive economic indicators and its strategic location at the crossroads of Gulf, south and the central Asia had made Pakistan a commercial hub of the region with an ideal business destination for the foreign investors.

He attributed this turnaround in Pakistan’s economy to its sound policies.”Pakistan today offers foreign investors the most profitable outlet for their capital,” he added.

President Musharraf said revival of economy and building investors confidence had remained the major priorities of his government. “We are aware that Algeria is also in the process of instituting reforms and actively looking for new economic partnership,” he added.

He said that during last three-and-a-half years, the government had focused on reviving the sagging economy and rebuilding of governance.

The president said the country faced an investment dilemma in the past as while it was wooing foreign investors, the state of the economy remained fragile, with extremely low foreign exchange reserves. But now “the economy was on road to progress and stability,” he added.

President Gen Pervez Musharraf was due to leave for Morroco late on Thursday.—Agencies.