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‘Pak wants Gilani-Obama meeting; US not keen’

Yousuf Raza Gilani will travel to New York in the third week of September for the UN session.



Islamabad: Amid continuing strained ties with US, Pakistan is seeking a meeting between Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and American President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly next month but the prospects are "grim" as the White House is "not interested".

Gilani will travel to New York in the third week of September for the UN session and Pakistan wants to use the visit to break the impasse that has characterised relations with the US since the covert American raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2.

The Pakistani Embassy in Washington is making hectic efforts to push for a meeting between Obama and Gilani but the prospects for it are "grim", a newspaper quoted its sources as saying.

The White House is "not interested" in such a meeting, reflecting its apparent displeasure over steps Pakistan took following the bin Laden raid, the sources said.

"At the moment I can confirm that Secretary (of State Hillary) Clinton will have a meeting with Prime Minister Gilani... The White House has not agreed for a meeting between President Obama and Prime Minister Gilani. But we haven`t yet given up," a Pakistani diplomat in Washington told the newspaper.

The US administration has "not shown any interest" in a meeting between Gilani and Obama, another newspaper quoted a diplomatic source as saying.

The US too wants to break the impasse but is pushing Pakistan to take certain steps before bilateral ties are brought back on track.

The recent visit by senior Senator John McCain and a phone call by Hillary Clinton to Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar were part of efforts by the two sides to move beyond the bin Laden affair.

Stung by Pakistan`s expulsion of dozens of American military and intelligence personnel, including trainers, the US has already withheld military aid worth 800 million dollars.

Intelligence cooperation between the two sides has come to a standstill, diplomatic sources told a news agency.

While the US has scheduled certain low-level meetings for cooperation in developmental areas, high-level meetings under the Pakistan-US Strategic Dialogue are off the agenda, the
sources said.

It is in this context that the US has so far not agreed to a meeting between Obama and Gilani on the sidelines of the UN session, the sources added.

The two sides recently made headway in improving their relations by resolving a diplomatic spat over restrictions imposed on movements of American diplomats within Pakistan.

The breakthrough came during a recent meeting between US Ambassador Cameron Munter and Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Obama and Gilani last met in April last year on the sidelines of a nuclear summit hosted by the US President.

An unnamed official of Pakistan`s Foreign Ministry also told the newspaper that a meeting with Obama was being sought to address the "serious" differences between Islamabad
and Washington as well as the "prevailing inertia" in the two capitals.

PTI

From Zee News

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