US vice president-elect Joe Biden Friday met Pakistan’s leaders to discuss tensions with India and the anti-terror fight in South Asia, 11 days before he takes office with Barack Obama.
Biden, outgoing chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sat down with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at the start of a regional tour with Republican senator Lindsey Graham.
Biden’s office said he would tour “southwest Asia” without giving details, citing security concerns, but he himself said earlier this week that he would be visiting Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.
“What I hope to accomplish is to get sort of a baseline. This will be my God knows how many trips, I guess my 10th or 11th trip into Iraq and I don’t know how many times in Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he was quoted as saying.
In a related development, Pakistan awarded a civilian honour on Biden at the Aiwan-e-Sadar in Islamabad.
President Zardari decorated Biden within hours of the arrival of the American leader in Pakistan. On the occasion, Zardari said that Pakistan wanted lasting and long-term ties with Washington and hoped that US drones strikes would also be halted.
Biden-Zardari talks focused on strained relations between India and Pakistan following the Mumbai attacks, as well as Islamabad’s ongoing contribution to the US-led “war on terror”.