New York rendezvous: In meeting with Clinton, President Zardari takes up film row -by Huma Imtiaz

Secretary Clinton introducing new US Ambassador Richard Olson with President Asif Zardari before a meeting in New York. PHOTO: INP
NEW YORK:  Amidst seething anger at home, President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday took up the issue of the anti-Islam movie with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying “Pakistanis are deeply dismayed at the film”.

“One or two insane persons should not be allowed to endanger world peace in the garb of freedom of expression,” he told the US foreign policy chief in an hour-long meeting on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly session.
Secretary Clinton greeted Zardari as ‘my friend’ and introduced him to the new US ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Olson, whom she said had just been sworn in so he could attend their talks.
She thanked the president for his country’s handling of several days of violent anti-US protests. “We very much appreciate the strong response of your government,” she said, at the start of their meeting in a New York hotel.
Pakistan has been rocked by days of violent protests in its major cities as demonstrations have swept Muslim countries in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia over the anti-Islam film.
Friday’s protests in Pakistan left 21 dead, and more than 200 injured as police fought back to disperse crowds around US diplomatic missions.
At Monday’s meeting, the two leaders discussed the situation in Afghanistan, according to a statement issued by the Pakistan Embassy in Washington.
The president told Secretary Clinton how Pakistan and the United States could cooperate in helping restore peace and stability in the war-ravaged country.
“The president assured Secretary Clinton that Pakistan was prepared to do everything in its power to help an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process in Afghanistan,” according to the statement. “He also conveyed that peace and stability in Pakistan were tied to peace and stability in Afghanistan.”
President Zardari said, “No country has paid a higher price for the conflict in Afghanistan than Pakistan.”
The two leaders also discussed the Pak-US relationship.
“We should build on the positive momentum,” said the president. He thanked Secretary Clinton for her country’s assistance to Pakistan, and called for focusing on larger projects, and greater access for Pakistani products to the US market. “Pakistan would rather do trade than depend on aid.”
President Zardari also invited the United States to partner with Pakistan in the Diamir Bhasha dam project, saying “this will dispel the impression that the US only works to its own priorities in Pakistan”.
Attendees at the meeting included President Barack Obama’s point-man on Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman, new US Ambassador to Pakistan Richard Olson, Deputy Secretary Tom Nides and White House Deputy National Security Advisor Gen (retd) Doug Lute. The Pakistani side was represented by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, Ambassador Sherry Rehman, ANP leader Asfandyar Wali, MQM leader Farooq Sattar and the PM’s Adviser on Human Rights Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar.
Zardari and Clinton last met in Chicago in May this year on the sidelines of the Nato summit. President Zardari is due to address the UN General Assembly on Tuesday. While a Foreign Office representative said the president would not be meeting his American counterpart, Zardari is due to attend a reception Monday evening for heads of state visiting New York, which President Obama is also expected to attend.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 25th, 2012.

Source: Daily Express

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