Obama refuses to meet Zardari: reports

Washington: US President Barack Obama is at loggerheads with his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari, refusing to meet him apparently over blockage of NATO supply lines into Afghanistan, an issue which continues to strain ties between two nations, American media reports said today.

The New York Times said a deal to reopen the supply lines fell apart as Obama began talks on ending the NATO alliance`s combat role in Afghanistan in 2013.

As a two-day NATO summit meeting opened in Chicago, Obama remained at loggerheads with Zardari, refusing even to meet him without a deal on the supply routes, which officials in both sides acknowledged would not be coming soon, it said.

Zardari, who flew to Chicago with hopes of lifting his stature with a meeting with Obama, was preparing to leave empty-handed as the two countries continued to feel the repercussions of a fatal American air strike last November, for which the US President has offered condolences but no apology, the paper said.

But White House Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said that President Obama could not meet Zardari as he had a "full slate of summit meetings to attend."

"The two bilateral meetings, really, that he did, or President (Hamid) Karzai for obvious reasons given the focus on Afghanistan here, and the Secretary General of NATO given that it?s traditional for the host to make sure that we`re aligned with the Secretary General heading into the summit.

"But we don`t anticipate any other bilateral meetings so we didn`t draw that linkage. We`re going to continue to work through the issue with the Pakistanis," he said.

Zardari did, however, meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss the supply routes. .