Zardari to meet Obama during his Washington visit today

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Lalit K Jha

Washington, Jan 14 (PTI) US President Barack Obamawould meet his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari at theWhite House today, where the two leaders would hold talks onissues of bilateral importance including combating terrorism.

"President Obama will meet with President Zardari ofPakistan here at the White House tomorrow," White House PressSecretary Robert Gibbs told reporters at his daily newsconference yesterday.

"The two leaders will discuss aspects of theUS-Pakistan strategic partnership, including our mutualcommitment to economic reform, support for democracy and goodgovernance, and joint efforts to combat terrorism," he said.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would join thatmeeting, State Department spokesman P J Crowley told reporterslater.

Crowley said that this was a vitally importantrelationship for the United States.

"This is a vitally important partnership that we''rebuilding with Pakistan. The Vice President (Joe Biden) wasjust there and had the opportunity to talk to PresidentZardari and Prime Minister Gilani," he said.

The president will have a chance to talk withPresident Zardari about the state of the relationship, what''shappening on the ground, and the US looks forward to themeeting, he added.

Zardari is on an unofficial visit to Washington toattend the memorial service of top American diplomat lateRichard Holbrooke, Obama''s special envoy for Afghanistan andPakistan who died last month at age 69.

"He''s in town for Holbrooke''s service, and we thoughtit was a good opportunity to add a meeting with PresidentZardari," Gibbs said, adding that the meeting would be closedfor the press.

Zardari is also expected to meet a number of USlawmakers during his short trip.

He is scheduled to tour Washington later this year onan official visit, which would be followed by Obama''s trip toPakistan.

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