Pakistani president arrives in France

2nd August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Pakistan's President Ali Asif Zardari was in Paris on Monday at the start of a difficult week-long trip to France and Britain overshadowed by British allegations of terror sponsorship.

A spokesman for the Pakistani embassy said Zardari had arrived overnight and would meet France's President Nicolas Sarkozy later in the day and Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on Tuesday.

The tougher leg of the trip is to come afterwards, when Zardari will travel to London to meet Prime Minister David Cameron, who last week angered Pakistan by accusing it of exporting extremist violence.

Some in Pakistan had called on Zardari to drop the British visit in protest over Cameron's remarks, which Islamabad has furiously denied and which have already led Pakistani spy chiefs to cancel a working trip to Britain.

By contrast, Zardari's two-day visit to France is expected to be less controversial, with no major public statements expected.

According to Sarkozy's office, the visit will allow the leaders "to address questions of security and the struggle against terrorism, the situation in the region and of our economic cooperation."

After the end of his official schedule on Tuesday, Zardari is to make a brief private visit to Normandy in northern France where the family of his late wife Benazir Bhutto, the former Pakistani prime minister, owns a holiday home.

© 2010 AFP

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