'Bhutto, Sharif to meet in London on October 19' | india | Hindustan Times
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'Bhutto, Sharif to meet in London on October 19'

The two leaders would discuss constituting a grand alliance of the opposition parties before the next polls.

india Updated: Oct 08, 2006 19:48 IST

Former Pakistan Premiers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif will meet in London on October 19 amid speculation that President Pervez Musharraf held back-channel talks with the PPP leader to work out political reconciliation, a media report said in Islamabad on Sunday.

The two leaders would discuss constituting a grand alliance of the opposition parties before the next elections, Pakistan's Online news agency reported.

However, Faratullah Babar, the spokesman of Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party, said the former prime minister would be in London on October 18-19 but he was not aware of any scheduled meeting with Sharif.

Bhutto and Sharif, former political rivals-turned-allies who both lived abroad, met twice in the recent past and even signed a charter to work for removal of the army from holding political power.

Subsequently, Musharraf, especially after his recent visit to the United States, reportedly sent some of his confidants to meet Bhutto and strike a political deal. Bhutto herself a few days ago acknowledged back-channel contacts.

Recent reports in sections of Pakistani media quoted officials as saying that the two sides have not yet reached an understanding on Bhutto's main demand that the government should withdraw the dozen-odd cases against her and her husband Asif Ali Zardari.

The speculation about the back-channel talks created apprehensions among Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N partymen and the two leaders were expected to discuss the reported contacts and their future course of action.