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Zardari in UK amid 'terror' row
Pakistan's president arrives in Britain for talks with PM in wake of diplomatic spat.
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2010 17:42 GMT
Zardari arrived in Britain a day after his meeting with Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris [AFP]

Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan's president, has arrived in the UK for a five-day visit amid a diplomatic row between the two countries.

The trip will include talks with David Cameron, the British prime minister, who last week angered Pakistani officialsby saying that their country should not "promote the export of terror".

In a statement from his office on Tuesday, the president criticised those who cast doubt on Pakistan's commitment to fighting the Taliban.

"It is unfortunate that certain individuals continue to express doubts and fears about our determination to fight militants to the end," Zardari said.

"Such fears will only weaken the international effort to fight militants and extremists."

Taliban winning

Cameron, who made the comments during a trip to India, said that Pakistan must not "look both ways" in secretly promoting violent extremism while pretending to seek regional stability.

"I believe that the international community, which Pakistan belongs to, is in the process of losing the war against the Taliban"

Asif Ali Zardari,
Pakistan's president

On Monday, Britain's high commissioner in Islamabad was summonedby Pakistan's foreign minister to discuss the remarks.

His remarks also sparked angry protests in Karachi, where demonstrators burned an effigy of the prime minister.

According to a senior Pakistani official, Zardari plans to press Cameron during their meeting, scheduled for Friday, to be "more careful in what he says".

"David Cameron has been doing some plain talking. Now Zardari will be doing the plain talking," the official told Britain's Guardian newspaper.

Zardari's UK visit follows a trip to France, where he met Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, for talks on Monday.

In an interview with Le Monde, a French newspaper, published on Tuesday, Zardari said that the international community was losing the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"I believe that the international community, which Pakistan belongs to, is in the process of losing the war against the Taliban," he said.

"And that is, above all, because we have lost the battle for hearts and minds."

'No respect'

Zardari is facing pressure from politicians in the UK and in Pakistan to cancel his UK trip and return home to look after his flood-devastatednation.

Khalid Mahmood, a Labour MP and Nazir Ahmed, both of Pakistani origin, have refused an invitation to meet Zardari, believing he should show his support for victims of the flood, which has affected more than two million people.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Mahmood said: "I think the best way to make an objection is by not taking part.

"I just don't feel I could bring myself to a meeting with somebody who has no ounce of respect for his own people, when these people are in dire straits."

Ahmed added that Cameron's comments were another reasonfor Zardari to boycott his visit to the UK.

"Our prime minister's gone a bit too far and president Zardari should not be here," he said.

Downing Street has insisted that Cameron will stand by his comments and not apologise.

Source:
Agencies
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