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Pakistan’s role in war on terror to top agenda of PM Gilani’s US visit


Islamabad : Pakistan’s role in the war on terror is expected to dominate the agenda when Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani undertakes his maiden visit to the US later this month during which Washington is likely to push him to do more to counter activities of militants in the restive tribal belt.

Gilani will be visiting Washington during July 27-30 at the invitation of US President George W Bush. This would be his first visit to the US since assuming office in March. Gilani is scheduled to meet Bush at the White House on Monday.

The meeting will be followed by a luncheon hosted in Gilani’s honour by Bush. The two leaders will have a “wide-ranging exchange of views on bilateral matters and regional and international issues of common interest”, said a statement issued by the Foreign Office.

However, analysts believe the situation in Pakistan’s restive semi-autonomous tribal regions will dominate Gilani’s discussions with officials of the US administration. Senior US officials like Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have expressed concern about the situation in the tribal areas and urged Pakistan to do more to counter Taliban and al-Qaeda elements that carry out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan.

The Foreign Office statement said the focus during Gilani’s visit will be on “promoting a new partnership between the two countries on peace and prosperity”. The visit is also “expected to deepen mutual understanding and further strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation in areas of common interest”.

During his stay in Washington, Gilani is scheduled to have meetings with senior members of the US administration, including Rice, Secretary of Defence Robert Gates and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson.