Islamabad: A meeting between Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and US President Barak Obama is on the cards to sort out growing “operational difficulties” in bilateral ties undermining proclaimed strategic convergence.
A senior official requesting anonymity said on Thursday that State Department and Foreign Office were working hard to avail this opportunity of the two leaders meeting out of Premier Gilani’s US visit in connection with UN General Assembly in September.
According to the official, this time the need for a top-level meeting between the two countries was being felt on part of the Americans as their diplomats were facing restrictions on their free movement in Pakistan.
“If they meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Gilani-Obama meeting would be first after May 2 incident that had resulted a downhill descent of bilateral ties,” the official observed.
However, the official confirmed, a meeting of the Prime Minister has already been scheduled with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during his around 4-day stay in US. This schedule has also not been officially announced yet, he added.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Tehmina Janjua also did not rule out the possibility of two leaders meeting in third week of next month. Asked a question in this regard during weekly briefing, the spokesperson said, “although the Prime Minister’s visit to the US would be brief, the possibility of his meeting with the US President cannot be ruled out.” It is obvious that the Prime Minister would be holding bilateral meetings while in US but it is two early to say who and who he would meet, she added. According to the FO Spokesperson, the Prime Minister was also likely to meet other countries’ heads of states and governments on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.
Meanwhile US Embassy Spokesperson Siohban OAT-JUDGE when contacted in this connection said President Obama’s meetings are scheduled by the White House. Therefore, she added, it was question for the White House and she did not know anything about the President’s meetings. Referring to the news in Pakistani media claiming that President Obama had refused to meet Gilani, she said it was a baseless story. In so many words the spokesperson too was unable to rule out the possibility of the two leaders meeting next month.