WASHINGTON: Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari arrived at the White House on Friday for talks with US President Barack Obama on the key but often uneasy anti-terrorism alliance between their countries.
Zardari flew to Washington for a memorial service later on Friday for the late US envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke who died last month at the age of 69.
A small pool of photographers was ushered into the Oval Office to record the meeting, but the two presidents make no substantive remarks. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also in the room.
The presidential-level talks follow Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Islamabad this week, which saw him deliver a bold message of support for Pakistan.
The vice president said that militancy in Pakistan was a threat to both countries, and he referred to the killing last week of Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who was shot dead by his bodyguard over his outspoken opposition to strict blasphemy laws.
Obama and Zardari were to discuss “aspects of the US-Pakistan strategic partnership, including our mutual commitment to economic reform, support for democracy and good governance, and joint efforts to combat terrorism,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters on Thursday.
Holbrooke, a larger-than-life diplomat who helped broker peace in the Balkans a decade ago, was credited in Pakistan with drawing international attention to the humanitarian disaster of massive floods last year. – AFP