Pak govt wanted to hold dinner meeting at Marriott Hotel: Zardari

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New York, Sep 29 (UNI) The Pakistani government had wanted to hold a dinner meeting at the Marriott Hotel, which was last weekend bombed by suspected al-Qaeda operatives, but decided to shift the venue to a different place, according to President Asif Ali Zardari.

The Pakistani leader said, ''We got it changed about three days earlier, but you know these guys hunt like wolf packs so obviously the information did not get to them,'' Mr Zardari said, referring to the alleged members of al-Qaeda.

President Zardari spoke in an interview on CNN broadcast yesterday. He was interviewed by veteran journalist Wolf Blitzer in the ''Late Editiion'' news segment, broadcast both in the US and worldwide.

''We were supposed to have dinner there that night,'' he said.

''The Speaker had actually booked the place and asked for the rates, but then we changed our minds and had it at the prime minister's house where we all were sitting including Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, General Kayani, the chief ministers, excluding the chief minister of Punjab, everybody was there,'' he added.

The President made it clear that the government had no prior information about the bombing plot and the government was still investigating the matter.

However, he added, ''it did have the finger marks and hallmarks of al-Qaeda - that is very clear.'' Mr Zardari said all his government institutions were united in fighting terrorism and requested that Washington cooperate with Islamabad in pursuing terrorists on the Pakistani side of the Afghan border.

Urging the US not to take unilateral action in this regard, he claimed Pakistani forces would do a better job.

''If there is actionable intelligence of high priority, share with us, we will do the job,'' he said in the interview, which was broadcast as he prepared to leave New York after a weeklong visit at the world body.

Claiming he had no information where al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was, Mr Zardari said that anybody who had such information should share it with his government.

''If I knew, he wouldn't be there,'' he asserted.

UNI XC RJ ND1030

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