WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama will not visit Pakistan during his Asian tour next month, but has committed to a trip to the key US anti-terror ally in 2011, the White House said Wednesday.
There had been rising speculation over whether Obama would pay a surprise and unannounced visit to Pakistan when he visits India in two weeks, then moves on to Indonesia, South Korea and Japan.
But he told Pakistani officials taking part in a strategic dialogue with American officials in Washington that a visit would take place next year instead.
“The President explained that he would not be stopping in Pakistan during his trip to Asia next month, and committed to visiting Pakistan in 2011,” the White House said in a statement.
Obama also told the delegation that he would welcome Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to Washington, but no date was specified.
Pakistan welcomes Obama visit
Pakistan on Wednesday praised US President Barack Obama for saying he would visit the country next year, calling it a sign of commitment between the troubled war partners.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, speaking afterward at the Brookings Institution think-tank, called his meeting with Obama “very satisfying.”
“The fact that he has agreed to visit Pakistan next year, the fact that he has decided to invite the president of Pakistan to the United States of America, that is the level of engagement that is taking place,” Qureshi said.