WASHINGTON: President Asif Ali Zardari and President Barack Obama began discussions on Pakistan-U.S relations, economic and security issues here at the White House.The meeting takes place during the Pakistani leader’s visit to the U.S. capital, during which he is due to attend a memorial service for Richard Holbrooke, the American envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan, who passed away in December last year.The White House announced the meeting between Pakistani and U.S. presidents on Thursday, saying it will be a good opportunity to discuss issues ranging from economic reform, democracy to counter-terrorism efforts.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and White House counter-terrorism Advisor John Brennan assisted the U.S. president while Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States accompanied President Zardari for the meeting, officials said.
The Oval office meeting between the Pakistani and U.S. president takes place just two days after Vice President Joe Biden met with President Zardari and other top leaders in Islamabad on Wednesday, assuring of Washington’s commitment to long-term relationship with Pakistan.
According to the White House spokesman, Presidents Obama and Zardari “will 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.”Ahead of the visit, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani said the two countries continue to advance bilateral ties on the basis of shared values and interests.
“Notwithstanding the political noise that is frequently manifested in parts of media in both countries, Pakistan and the United States are engaged in a very robust strategic partnership aimed at creating stability in South Asia,” Haqqani said. Later in the day President Zardari will also meet co-chair of Congressional Pakistan caucus working on the Capitol Hill to promote bilateral relations.
In the afternoon, President Zardari will attend a memorial service for Richard Holbrooke, who served as U.S. Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan until his death in Decmeber 2010. President Obama will also attend the memorial to pay tribute to the services rendered by Holbrooke.-APP