London: Pakistan and Britain on Friday sought
to bury a stormy diplomatic row between them as Prime Minister
David Cameron met Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, with
the two declaring that the ties were "unbreakable".
Shaking hands with Zardari after a formal meeting at
picturesque Chequers country retreat, Cameron said, that they
had discussed how to "deepen and enhance" their strategic
Speaking after their hour-long meeting, both leaders
sought to present a picture of cordiality even as Cameron said
the talks included efforts to work with Pakistan to combat
terrorism and keep people safe on the streets of Afghanistan
But the two steered clear of any mention in public of
Cameron`s remarks in India that Pakistan should not be allowed
to "promote export of terror whether to India, whether to
Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world."
They read out televised statements, but refused to
take any questions.
"We dealt with all the issues where we want to make
progress," the British Prime Minister said as he offered more
help to Pakistan to cope with devastating floods.
Zardari who had vowed to confront Cameron head on over
his remarks of Pakistan exporting terror said, "This is a
friendship that will never break, no matter what happens."
"Storms will come and storms will go and Pakistan and
Britain will stand together and face all the difficulties with
dignity...we will make sure the world is a better place for
coming generations," the Pakistan President said.
Though details of the talks were not released, Downing
Street sources were quoted by BBC as saying "both the sides
were pleased with how the meeting had gone."
The two countries agreed to hold an annual summit
between the two governments and Cameron was invited to visit
Pakistan "and will go soon", Downing Street sources said.
Islamabad and London also agreed to set-up of regular
national security talks between top officials from both
Asked what was said about comments made by Cameron in
India, his aide told BBC, she could not go into that."
Zardari, who was under pressure to cancel the visit to
protest against Cameron`s comments and in view of floods back
home, last night met Cameron for a dinner held in memory of
his late wife, Benazir Bhutto.
Zardari, who earlier said he would do some straight
talking with Cameron during the talks, said he was grateful to
Cameron and the British people for their support to deal with
floods in Pakistan.
He said he was looking forward to a relationship in
which Britain supported Pakistan`s position in international
fora. He also wanted a situation of more trade and less aid
"We have been allies for years. Our friendship will
never break, Zardari said.
Last night`s dinner in memory of Benazir Bhutto was
originally organised by the international development minister
Alan Duncan, who struck up a friendship with her during their
time together at Oxford University in the 1970s.
Downing Street sources said the dinner was moved to
Chequers at the Prime Minister`s request.
The dinner provided an occasion to meet informally
before formal talks on Friday morning between Cameron and Zardari.
Zardari yesterday met Home secretary Theresa May and
Conservative party chairperson Baroness Sayeeda Warsi.
He also met four parliamentarians for lunch at the
Pakistani high commission, including Conservative MPs Rehman
Chishti and Sajid Javid and the former Labour MPs Shahid Malik
and Mohammad Sarwar.
Other Labour MPs did not attend the meeting,
including Sarwar`s son Anas who is an MP from his father`s
Glasgow Central seat.
Another MP, Khalid Mahmood, said he had boycotted the
meeting. Mahmood said: "I am disgusted with him being here.
He should be looking after his own people. His visit shows his
indifference to his own people."
Meanwhile, Zardari`s son, Bilawal, announced last
night that he will not participate in tomorrow`s convention of
the Pakistan People`s Party in Birmingham.
The forum was supposed to be the launch-pad for
Bilawal`s political career. Instead, he said in a statement
that he would spend Saturday working to help the victims of
the country`s devastating floods.
He said: "I will not even be attending the
[Birmingham] event and instead I will be opening a donation
point at the Pakistani high commission in London for victims
of the terrible floods which have ravaged northern Pakistan".
Bilawal also sought to play down speculation over
his political future, by saying that he intended to further
his academic and political knowledge and was considering