Pakistan's foreign minister asked US officials Monday not to panic over Taliban advances along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan - a region British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called a "crucible of terrorism."
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan has sent terrorists in its tribal areas a "clear signal" that they must lay down arms, as he sought to quell Western fears raised by a recent peace deal between terrorists and the government.
"We mean business, and if we have to use force, we will use force. We will not hesitate," Qureshi told The Associated Press on the sidelines of meetings with his Afghan and Iranian counterparts.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week said Pakistan was "basically abdicating to the Taliban and the extremists," though she later said Pakistan was beginning to realize the threat terrorists posed.
"My response is: 'Please do not panic,'" Qureshi said in response to Clinton's comments. "We have now a common enemy, and we've devised a common strategy to deal with the enemy. ... We will not surrender, we will not capitulate, and we will not abdicate."
Brown visited British troops in southern Afghanistan during a one-day trip. He later flew to Islamabad.