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Obama, Zardari discuss anti-terror efforts, blasphemy law

January 15, 2011 13:19 IST

United States President Barack Obama and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari discussed the war or terror, promotion of regional stability and Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law during their 'closed press' meeting at the White House on Friday.

"The discussion focused on our shared efforts to fight terrorism and promote regional stability, specifically on the importance of cooperating towards a peaceful and stable outcome in Afghanistan," said a White House readout of the Obama-Zardari meeting.

Obama underscored the importance of the US-Pakistan relationship and America's continued support for Pakistan, and said he was "looking forward to visiting Pakistan later this year," the readout added.

When asked during a briefing whether the topic of Pakistan launching an offensive in North Waziristan came up in the meeting, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon replied that this was not a 'full bilateral meeting' between the United States and Pakistan.

"We asked President Zardari to come over because he's here on a private visit to attend the memorial service at the Kennedy Centre this afternoon for Ambassador Ruchard Holbrooke. So it was not a long meeting.  They didn't get into the details of those kinds of military or counter-terrorism operations," he said.  

"They talked about the overall relationship, right, and the United States' support for Pakistan.  They talked about the economic situation in Pakistan, and the joint work that we can do to advance economic stability in Pakistan, and which we are doing. And they talked about the blasphemy law, actually, towards the end of that discussion," he added.

Responding to another question on whether the Pakistan president would be coming back to the White House, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, "Yes, we hope that President Zardari will make a longer visit later in the year here."

Donilon added to Gibbs' remark, saying that it was a very important point. "During the course of the discussion, the President [Obama] obviously made that clear that he was glad that President Zardari would have the time to come over and have a short visit today because he was in town.  And we took advantage of that opportunity," he said. 

"But the President obviously said to him that we'll be planning a more formal visit for President Zardari and the Pakistanis here. We also have the Pakistan-Afghan trilateral meeting here in February.  And we are planning the next strategic dialogue with the Pakistanis," he added.

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