Paris: Pakistan`s President Asif Ali Zardari,
facing questions about his country`s role in Afghanistan,
turns to France for support in talks on Monday with French
President Nicolas Sarkozy expected to focus on fighting
terrorism and sharing intelligence.
Zardari arrived in France last night, as his government
was coming under criticism for its handling of deadly flooding
in the northwest of the country. The worst floods in the
country`s history have already killed up to 1,100 people and
forced 2 million to flee their homes.
Zardari leaves Paris tomorrow for talks in London with
top British officials, amid a diplomatic spat over comments by
Britain`s prime minister suggesting the South Asian nation
Pakistan, which shares a porous land border with troubled
Afghanistan, has long been considered a key player in the
fight against terrorism, and a report in Le Figaro daily said
France and Pakistan are working to hammer out the details of a
deal on increased intelligence-sharing between the two
The deal is expected to be ready by October, in time for
a Paris visit by the Pakistani prime minister, the report
France is one of the biggest contributors to the US-led
force in Afghanistan, and is sending 250 more trainers to the
country to bring the overall French force to 4,000 people.
Pakistan and its role in Afghanistan have been in the
spotlight for more than a week, since Wikileaks, the
self-described online whistle-blower, posted leaked US
military documents that revived questions about Pakistan`s
willingness to sever its historical ties to the Taliban and
deny Taliban fighters sanctuary along the border between the
The thorny nuclear issue is also expected to be on the
agenda at Sarkozy and Zardari`s meeting. France is a major
exporter of civil nuclear technology and has struck recent
deals with such countries as Libya and the United Arab
Emirates. Pakistan suffers from chronic power shortages and is
eager to develop its nuclear energy sector, but has refused to
sign nonproliferation accords and faces a nuclear trade ban.
Pakistani Embassy officials say Zardari will also meet
with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and visit an
exhibition of Pakistani art at Paris` Guimet Museum,
accompanied by Culture Minister Frederic Mitterrand.