Zardari didn’t attend Taseer’s funeral but goes to US for Holbrooke’s memorial service

January 13th, 2011 - 5:10 pm ICT by ANI  

Richard Holbrooke Islamabad, Jan 13(ANI): Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari did not attend slain Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer’s funeral last week, but left for the United States on Wednesday to attend a memorial service for late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke.

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said Zardari would attend a memorial service in Washington on Friday for Holbrooke, the US Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, who died on December 13, 2010.

He is also expected to meet some important American leaders during his stay in Washington, the Dawn reports.

Before leaving for the US, Zardari called PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif, MQM chief Altaf Hussain and Awami National Party leader Asfandyar Wali Khan, and exchanged views with them on matters relating to the visit.

Sources in the presidency said that Zardari had sought the leaders’ suggestions to effectively present Pakistan’s viewpoint on issues relating to the war on terror and increase in bilateral trade.

The president will discuss economic, security and strategic issues with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other members of the Obama cabinet on Friday.

There are speculations of a chance meeting with US President Barack Obama as well, although officials on both sides are still refusing to confirm it.

Briefing the media on the Zardari’s Washington visit, Ambassador Husain Haqqani said that although the president was coming to attend Ambassador Richard Holbrooke’s last rites, he would use this opportunity to have a fruitful discussion on bilateral issues.

Ambassador Haqqani said Pakistan had succeeded in convincing its American friends that they also needed to address Islamabad’s concerns about India’s looming presence in Afghanistan.

“The concerns that Pakistan has about its large eastern neighbour cannot be ignored by creating a security structure for the region,” he maintained.

The US and Pakistan had been consistently increasing “the frequency and level” of their bilateral contacts “based on shared interests and shared values”, he said, adding that both nations were involved in “laying the foundation of a very robust strategic partnership aimed at creating stability in South Asia”. (ANI)

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