Pak denies formal meeting b/w Musharraf, Barak

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Islamabad, Jan 29: Pakistan has categorically denied any formal meeting between President Pervez Musharraf and Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak.

''The meeting took place by chance when President Musharraf was leaving the hotel lobby and the Israeli defence minister was entering the hotel,'' Foreign Office spokesman Muhammad Sadiq said in Islamabad. The spokesman said President Musharraf shook hands with the Israeli defence minister in the lobby when he met him by chance.

International media reported yesterday that Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak held talks in Paris last week with President Pervez Musharraf even though their countries have no diplomatic relations.

The two men first met by chance at the Hotel Raphael where Barak was staying and spoke briefly, AFP quoted a spokeswoman from the Israeli Defence Ministry as saying.

The following day, President Musharraf invited Mr Barak for a meeting and the two talked for about an hour, focusing on Iran's nuclear programme, she said.

In their first-ever interaction, Pakistani and Israeli foreign ministers had a formal meeting in Istanbul in 2006. However, Islamabad denied it was aimed at paving the way for recognition of Tel Aviv.

UNI

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