Pakistani president arrives in Britain amid terror row

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Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari arrived in Britain on Tuesday for a visit clouded by a row over a British terrorism warning, and devastating floods at home.

Zardari flew in from France for the five-day British visit, set to include talks Friday with Prime Minister David Cameron -- who defended his warning hours before the Pakistani leader's arrival.

A spokeswoman confirmed he had arrived, as television pictures showed a smiling Zardari emerging from a Pakistani jet.

In comments in the French newspaper Le Monde, Zardari said he would explain why Islamabad is angry "face to face" after Cameron suggested elements in Pakistan backed "the export of terror" to its neighbours Afghanistan and India.

"The war against terrorism must unite us and not oppose us," Zardari said.

But hours before Zardari's arrival in London, Cameron stood by the comments he made during a visit to India last week. "I gave a pretty clear and frank answer to a clear and frank question," he told BBC radio.

"I don't regret that at all," he added.

As well as the diplomatic row, critics in Pakistan are angered by Zardari's decision to spend a week in Europe at a time when monsoon flooding has killed 1,500 people and affected 3.5 million more.

Some British lawmakers of Pakistani origin pulled out of a planned lunch Thursday with Zardari, saying he should be back home sorting out the country's flooding disaster.

"I'm not going to meet with the president because I believe that a head of state needs to be in his country of origin when there's a state of emergency," Lord Nazir Ahmed told AFP.

© 2010 AFP

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