Saudi Arabian leaders are also reportedly upset by the reports of civilian casualties, and in the first official statement from the nation on the U.S.-led campaign, criticized the bombing while attempting to remain supportive of the fight against terrorism.
"We wish the United States had been able to flush out the terrorists in Afghanistan without resorting to the current action … because this is killing innocent people," Interior Minister Prince Naif told the official Saudi Press Agency. "We are not at all happy with the situation. This in no way means we are not willing to confront terrorism."
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia: Anxious Allies
Islamabad may be looking for more from Powell than just a thank-you, though. Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Riaz Mohammad Khan said his government will want to hear about how long the United States expects the bombing to continue.
"Prolongation of military operations will be a source of concern to us," Khan said. "With prolongation you can expect mishaps in which innocent civilian lives may be lost and nobody … would like to see that happen."
Muslim militants called for a nationwide strike to protest the government's cooperation with the United States, and thousands of stores remained closed today across the country. Particularly hard-hit were the cities of Quetta and Jacobabad, where the entire business districts were closed down.
Tensions between Pakistan and India could also create problems for U.S. plans to use bases in Pakistan as a staging area for potential ground action in Afghanistan, and in addition to his visit to Islamabad, Powell plans to meet Indian leaders in New Delhi.
The two nations' troops reportedly clashed across the so-called line of control in the disputed region of Kashmir today. Indian military officials told Reuters that mortars were fired at Pakistani troops trying to cross into Indian territory.
Pakistani troops returned fire in an exchange that lasted 40 minutes, according to the report. Pakistan claimed one woman was killed and 25 people were wounded.
In New Delhi, Indian officials said the United States had no role to play in the conflict between the two South Asian nations. A foreign ministry spokeswoman said Indian officials would not discuss its relations with Pakistan with the American statesman.
"We do not see absolutely any need for mediation in the context of India-Pakistan relations," Nirupama Rao said. "These are matters to be discussed between India and Pakistan in a holistic manner and the U.S. administration is well aware of this."
‘No Need to Discuss It’
The new bombing comes after Washington rejected yet another offer by the Taliban to turn over bin Laden for trial in a third country if the United States presents evidence against the accused terrorist mastermind and ends its military campaign.
"There's no need to discuss it," President Bush said on Sunday. "We know he's guilty. Just turn him over. … There's nothing to negotiate about. They're harboring a terrorist and they need to turn him over."
Washington says bin Laden and his al Qaeda organization were behind the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, in addition to other terrorist attacks such as the bombing of the USS Cole and two U.S. embassies in Africa.
Bush said if the Taliban wants the air attacks to end, it must turn over bin Laden and the members of al Qaeda hiding in Afghanistan and destroy any terrorist camps.