CHICAGO: President Asif Ali Zardari has met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai in the first bilateral meetings held by the Pakistani delegation on the sidelines of the Nato summit on Sunday.
Earlier the president arrived in Chicago on Saturday afternoon (Central Time) to participate in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) Summit 2012.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Farhatullah Babar, the president’s spokesperson said that the meeting between Karzai and Zardari lasted 45 minutes, wherein the two discussed bilateral relations and the regional situation.
“Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed in principle today to extend the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement beyond Afghanistan to countries in Central Asia. The decision, the modalities of which will be worked out, was taken today at the Zardari-Karzai meeting in Chicago on the sidelines of NATO summit when President Karzai welcomed the Pakistani President’s proposal to this effect,” said the spokesperson.
Zardari was scheduled to meet Nato Secretary General Fogh Rasmussen on Saturday. However, officials told The Express Tribune that it had been cancelled. A Nato public affairs official said that the meeting had been cancelled due to agenda reasons.
A Pakistan embassy spokesperson explained that the President’s plane had been delayed, and that the meeting will be rescheduled. ”We are in touch with NATO for rescheduling the meeting.”
Zardari’s plane had landed only two hours before the announcement for the meeting’s cancellation was issued.
A spokesperson for the Embassy of Pakistan told The Express Tribune that the president would be accompanied by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani.
Zardari had been scheduled to meet Clinton and Karzai on the sidelines of the summit.
However, a source said it was unlikely that there would be a bilateral meeting between US President Barack Obama and the Pakistani president.
On Thursday, White House National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, in a press briefing, did not comment on whether the two premiers would be meeting one-on-one, however he said they would meet during the Nato summit meetings.
The President is also due to meet Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Sunday and is scheduled to attend a dinner of non-Nato partner countries.