Zardari to meet Obama today
Washington: US President Barack Obama would meet his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari at the White House today, where the two leaders would hold talks on issues of bilateral importance including combating terrorism.
"President Obama will meet with President Zardari of Pakistan here at the White House tomorrow," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters at his daily news conference yesterday.
"The two leaders will discuss aspects of the US-Pakistan strategic partnership, including our mutual commitment to economic reform, support for democracy and good governance, and joint efforts to combat terrorism," he said.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would join that meeting, State Department spokesman P J Crowley told reporters later.
Crowley said that this was a vitally important relationship for the United States.
"This is a vitally important partnership that we`re building with Pakistan. The Vice President (Joe Biden) was just there and had the opportunity to talk to President Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani," he said.
The president will have a chance to talk with President Zardari about the state of the relationship, what`s happening on the ground, and the US looks forward to the meeting, he added.
Zardari is on an unofficial visit to Washington to attend the memorial service of top American diplomat late Richard Holbrooke, Obama`s special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan who died last month at age 69.
"He`s in town for Holbrooke`s service, and we thought it was a good opportunity to add a meeting with President Zardari," Gibbs said, adding that the meeting would be closed for the press.
Zardari is also expected to meet a number of US lawmakers during his short trip.
He is scheduled to tour Washington later this year on an official visit, which would be followed by Obama`s trip to Pakistan.