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Old Monday, September 15, 2008
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Default Zardari to discuss al Qaeda conflict in UK

Zardari to discuss al Qaeda conflict in UK

September 15 2008


President Asif Ali Zardari will discuss the conflict with Taliban and al Qaeda militants in the northern tribal areas with British leaders this week, officials said Sunday. Zardari will meet British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Tuesday though he is on a private visit for his daughter's admission to university.

"It is a private visit but the president will meet the British Prime Minister," foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Sadiq told AFP. Pakistani state media said that in London Zardari would hold talks on "the emerging situation on the troubled Pakistan-Afghanistan border."

"Pakistan would convey to the Britain that it has done more in the war on terror than others," the Associated Press of Pakistan quoted Pakistan's ambassador to London Wajid Shamsul Hassan as saying. A senior presidential aide said that Zardari had gone to London on a private visit for his daughter Bakhtawar's admission to the University of Edinburgh. Zardari will return to Pakistan on Thursday to address the joint sitting of parliament and will fly to New York on September 24 to attend the United Nations General Assembly session, the official said.

The Pakistani government is facing a growing domestic backlash after missile strikes targeting al Qaeda or Taliban militants in the tribal areas in recent weeks which have allegedly killed civilians. The attacks have been blamed on US-led coalition forces or CIA drones based in Afghanistan.

Washington says Pakistan's mountainous tribal regions have become a safe haven for Islamic fighters waging an insurgency in Afghanistan, and for al Qaeda leaders plotting global terror attacks.

But the increasingly frequent missile attacks, for which the United States has not claimed responsibility, are straining Pakistan's relationship with its key allies. Civilian deaths have stirred local anger and embarrassed the Pakistani government, already struggling to tackle the militancy that has seen 1,200 of its own people die in bombings and suicide attacks in the past year alone.

Pakistan's army, itself engaged in fierce clashes against militants linked to the Taliban and al Qaeda in the border regions, has also condemned what it sees as unilateral US action that violates the country's sovereignty. Zardari, who flew to his former exile home in Dubai on Friday, is expected to land in London later Sunday.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008
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