Thursday, October 21, 2010

Obama visit to Pak only in 2011: White House

The reported attempts of Pakistan to persuade U.S. President Barack Obama to visit the country this year seem to have failed with the White House making it clear that he would undertake that trip only in 2011.

The Pakistani media has reported that Islamabad had launched hectic diplomatic efforts to ensure an Obama visit either before he travels to India on November 6 or immediately thereafter. Some reports had gone to the extent of saying that he would pay a quick visit to Islamabad.

The White House, however, said the President had committed that he would travel to Pakistan next year and that he was looking forward to welcoming President Asif Ali Zardari to Washington soon.

Mr. Obama conveyed this to a visiting high-level delegation from Pakistan, which is in Washington to participate in the U.S.-Pak Strategic Dialogue, the White House said in a statement.

"The President explained that he would not be stopping in Pakistan during his trip to Asia next month, and (is) committed to visiting Pakistan in 2011," it said.

During his meeting with the Pakistani delegation led by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Mr. Obama stressed that Washington and Islamabad should move towards a "true partnership" based on mutual respect and common interest.

"The President and the Pakistani delegation agreed on the need for regional stability and cooperating towards a peaceful and stable outcome in Afghanistan," the statement said.

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