ORLANDO- The White House on Thursday declined to comment on Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf`s charge that the United States had threatened to bomb his country "back to the Stone Age" in 2001.

Musharraf told CBS television`s "60 Minutes" program that then-deputy US secretary of state Richard Armitage had told Pakistan`s intelligence director that would be the price for not cooperating in the US-led war on terrorism.

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the White House would not comment on "a reported conversation" but stressed that Pakistan had made "a strategic choice" to help after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States.

"After 9/11, Pakistan made a strategic choice to join the war on terror and has since been a steadfast partner in that effort," the official told AFP by telephone from Washington.

"Pakistan`s commitment to this important endeavor has not wavered, and our partnership has widened as a result. We`re unified in our commitment to fight terror," the official told AFP.

Musharraf`s support for the US-led invasion of Afghanistan was instrumental in the fall of the hardline Taliban regime, which refused to hand over terrorist Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, who ordered the September 11 strikes.

"The intelligence director told me that (Armitage) said, `Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age`," Musharraf told CBS, according to excerpts of an interview set to be broadcast Sunday.

"I think it was a very rude remark," Musharraf said in the interview. "One has to think and take actions in the interests of the nation, and that`s what I did."

09/21/2006 20:19 GMT

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