London: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has said that he is ready to hold talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to put an end to the violence that has claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent civilians in the country.
Interacting with reporters during a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron following a meeting, which was dubbed as a ‘showdown’ owing to Cameron’s recent anti-Pakistan tirade, Zardari said his country had never closed the door to talks with the Taliban.
“We never closed the dialogue,” Zardari said while responding to a question that when talks with the insurgents would resume.
“We had an agreement, which they broke. Talks will resume whenever they feel we’re strong enough and they can’t win, because they won’t win. It will be a painful difficult task, but defeat is not an option for us,” he added.
The media interaction saw both the leaders talking of intensifying cooperation against terrorism and strengthening ties between the two countries, in an apparent attempt to tone down the heightened tension which emanated after Cameron accused Pakistan of exporting terrorism during his India trip last week.
Cameron’s remarks drew widescale criticism in Pakistan, with the opposition demanding Zardari to cancel his London trip, however the President blamed the media for the row, saying the issue was blown out of proportion.
“Storms will come and storms will go, and Pakistan and Britain will stand together and face all the difficulties with dignity and we will make sure that the world is a better place for our coming generations,” Sky News quoted Zardari, as saying.
A joint statement issued from the two men after their talks said that Home Secretary Theresa May would visit Pakistan in the autumn and Cameron has also accepted Pakistan’s invitation to make an "early visit".
Describing the hour-long meeting between Zardari and Cameron as “very warm and constructive”, a Downing Street official said the leaders showed “excellent dynamics".