Only 2 Pak coalition ministers to accompany Musharraf to China

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Islamabad, Apr 7 (UNI) In a notable departure from the past, only two federal ministers, both representing the Pakistan People's Party, will accompany Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf on his first post-election visit to China next week.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar will be the two cabinet members who will travel with the ''beleaguered'' president on a six-day state visit to China from April 10-15, The News quoted diplomatic sources as saying today.

In yet another clear signal that it is in no mood to engage with president Musharraf, PPP's main coalition partner the PML-Nawaz has declined to be part of the presidential entourage on his first high profile foreign visit after the formation of the new government.

Given the increasing thrust on economic cooperation between Pakistan and China and some expected agreements in the area, the presidency had requested that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar be included in the official delegation.

But apparently Mr Dar excused himself on the pretext that he had an important meeting with the World Bank around that time. This would be the first occasion in Pakistan's history that a president has been put in such an awkward position ahead of a foreign visit, the paper remarked.

The president would hold bilateral talks with his Chinese counterpart Hu Jintao at whose invitation he would be visiting the country.

He would also meet Premier Wen Jiabao and other leaders. The visit has been characterised by the Foreign Office spokesperson as part of regular high-level interaction between the two countries.

The president would also visit Boao where he would be the keynote speaker at the Boao Forum for Asia, which would bring together other world leaders as well.

UNI XC RJ DS1208

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