Pakistan PM Yousuf Gilani leaves for US

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{image-Yousuf Gilani_26072008.jpg}Islamabad, Jul 26: Pakistan's Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani left for Washington on Saturday, July 26, on a first-ever official visit at the invitation of President George W Bush.

''The Prime Minister is scheduled to meet President Bush at the White House on July 28 for wide-ranging exchange of views on bilateral matters and regional and international issues of common interest,'' Foreign Ministry spokesman Muhammad Sadiq said here. During his stay in Washington, the Prime Minister will hold meetings with senior members of the administration including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson.

Mr Gilani is also expected to interact with Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama, the presidential hopefuls from the Republican and Democratic parties respectively.

On Capitol Hill, Mr Gilani will be meeting with members of the Senate and House of Representatives.

His schedule also includes a think-tank address, meeting with the US business sector, and an address to the Pakistani-American community and interaction with the US print and electronic media.

On July 29, he will address Investors Roundtable on Pakistan's power sector, being organised with the World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC).

''Pakistan and the US enjoy close, friendly and cooperative relations,'' Mr Sadiq said, adding the US is among ''our largest trading partners and leading foreign investors in Pakistan.'' He said that the two countries traditionally have strong defence and security cooperation.

''We are committed to developing a broad-based and long-term relationship based on common values and characterised by greater collaboration in the fields of trade and economic cooperation, social sector development, and people-to-people contacts,'' the spokesman said.

He said the focus would be on promoting a new partnership between the two countries on peace and prosperity during Gilani's visit.


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