Nawaz postpones departure to London, offered meeting with Musharraf

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Islamabad, Oct 30 (UNI) Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif has postponed his departure for London from Jeddah for the time being amid reports that President Pervez Musharraf was ready to meet the exiled leader if the latter shows a little ''flexibility''.

Media reports quoting highly placed PML sources said the PML-N leader was understood to have been conveyed that he could be given relief, if he was ready to negotiate with Gen Musharraf.

Despite Mr Sharif's clear refusal to hold any meeting with the military ruler, the possibility of such a confidential meeting cannot be ruled out, they said.

''Nawaz Sharif was asked that if he agreed to sit and negotiate with Musharraf, the latter could come to Jeddah any time to have a confidential meeting with the former,'' they said.

Meanwhile, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal met Mr Sharif and discussed the modalities to faiclitate the Pakistani leader's ''plan of action'', The News quoted highly placed diplomatic sources.

He has also been given an understanding that his main political rival, PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto, would not be in the political arena in Pakistan for the forthcoming general elections.

The paper also quoted Foreign Minister Khurshid Mehmud Kasuri as saying that the government was ready to consider any proposal to facilitate Mr Sharif's return but under an arrangement that could ensure smooth homecoming by the Muslim League leader.

If the meeting materialises it would be the second contact between the two leaders after October 12, 1999, the day when the Pakistan Army overthrew Nawaz Sharif government.

However, PML-N sources said the exiled leader would return to Pakistan after the Supreme Court gives its verdict on petitions challenging Gen Musharraf's candidacy to contest the October 6 Presidential poll and a contempt of court case against the government for deporting him to Saudi Arabia.

Senior party leaders told the paper that Mr Sharif would return to London soon after the verdicts and finally to the country by the ''second half of November''.


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