Cameron, Zardari meet over dinner
Prime Minister David Cameron is meeting Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari today - the first time since the British leader accused Pakistan of exporting terrorism.world Updated: Aug 05, 2010 20:58 IST
Prime Minister David Cameron is meeting Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday - the first time since the British leader accused Pakistan of exporting terrorism.
Zardari will join a dinner being held in honor of his late wife Benazir Bhutto at Cameron's country residence Chequers, near Aylesbury, west of London.
Cameron's office said the dinner was arranged by international aid minister Alan Duncan, a friend of Bhutto for over 30 years.
Last week in India, Cameron accused elements in Pakistan of allowing the "export of terror," suggesting not enough was being done to tackle terror groups inside Pakistan's borders.
The comments prompted Pakistan's intelligence chief, Lt Gen. Ahmed Shujaa Pasha, to cancel a planned trip to London and for Britain's envoy in Pakistan to be summoned to Islamabad.
Dozens of protesters in the port city of Karachi also burned an effigy of Cameron in protest while Pakistan officials in London said the comments stood to undermine cooperation between the two countries.
Pakistan is one of Britain's most important allies in fighting terrorism - nearly 1 million people of Pakistani origin live in Britain, and Pakistani intelligence has been crucial in several terror investigations, including the 2005 suicide attacks that killed 52 London commuters and a 2006 trans-Atlantic airliner plot.
Many of the plots have had links back to Pakistan. Zardari met with a handful of British government officials on Thursday afternoon ahead of his dinner with Cameron. He also spoke late Wednesday night to David Miliband, shadow foreign secretary, at the Pakistan president's request, Miliband's office said.
The talks apparently focused on the importance of tackling terrorist groups and the recent floods, which have killed an estimated 1,500 people in Pakistan.
Zardari, who holds formal talks with Cameron on Friday, has rejected claims that Pakistan has aided militants. In the French daily Le Monde, he also said he thought US-led coalition forces had lost the battle against the Taliban after failing to win over the Afghan people.
"To win the support of the Afghan population, we must bring them economic development and show that we cannot only change their lives, but above all improve them," Zardari was quoted as saying.
Zardari is expected to speak Saturday at a rally of his Pakistan Peoples Party in Birmingham before departing to Syria.
His son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari - Benazir Bhutto's eldest child - is also expected to attend. The 21-year-old, who recently finished his history and politics degree studies at Oxford, is the chairman of the PPP and is expected to enter politics in the coming years.