Zardari to skip NAM summit


New Delhi : Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari will not visit Egypt for the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit next month, his spokesman said, meaning that a planned meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will not take place.

Support TwoCircles

At the same time, “the formulation is not correct to say that Zardari had cancelled the visit as he was avoiding” Manmohan Singh in the wake of the Indian prime minister’s blunt message during their meeting in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg on Tuesday, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told the NDTV news channel.

Babar, however, couldn’t say whether Zardari was “upset” or “irritated”, as the questioner put it, over Manmohan Singh’s remark, made in full view of TV cameras at the first meeting of the two leaders after the Mumbai terror attacks that India has blamed on elements operating from Pakistan.

“I can’t comment. I really have no comment,” Babar replied.

Manmohan Singh had delivered a blunt message to Zardari at their meeting: “I must tell you quite frankly that I have come with the limited mandate of discussing how Pakistan can deliver on its assurances that its territory would not be used for terrorist attacks on India.”

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani will represent Pakistan at the NAM summit.

Babar chose to be circumspect when asked whether Gilani would meet Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the summit.

“The (Manmohan-Zardari) meeting was to have taken place after the foreign secretaries had met and reported on the outcome of their talks,” he replied.

After their meeting, it was announced that the two foreign secretaries would meet, after which Manmohan Singh and Zardari would again meet in Egypt.

The two leaders were in Yekaterinburg for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting that they attended as observers.

India froze the composite dialogue process in the wake of the Nov 26-29, 2008 Mumbai carnage that claimed over 170 lives, including those of 26 foreigners.

India has repeatedly said the dialogue can resume only after Pakistan shows tangible results in bringing to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai mayhem.