Zardari avoids meeting PM

 Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani will lead the Pakistani delegation to the Summit at Sharm-el Shaikh on July 15, the Foreign Office announced, a day after Dr Manmohan Singh had told reporters that he and Zardari would be meeting on the sidelines of the Summit.

At the start of their ice-breaking meeting at Yekaterinburg in Russia on Tuesday, Singh had told Zardari in full glare of international media that his mandate was limited to telling that Pakistan should not allow its soil to be used for terrorism against India.

It had been announced later that the foreign secretaries of the two countries would meet to discuss terrorism and then the two leaders would “take stock” of their deliberations when they meet in Sharm-el Shaikh.

Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit told the weekly news briefing here on Thursday that would lead the Pakistani delegation to next month’s NAM summit.

Pakistan has been represented at the last few NAM summits by former President Pervez Musharraf. Basit, however, sought to play down the development.

“We said the next meeting at Sharm el-Sheikh would be between the political leadership of the two countries. It was never said whether the President or the Prime Minister would represent Pakistan,” he said.

Diplomatic and other sources said the move was a reaction to Singh’s remarks, which the pro-establishment daily The News had described as “rude”. They said the intention was to send out a clear message that Singh’s comments had not gone down well with the Pakistan government.

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