Obama ‘briefly’ met Zardari twice in Chicago


US President Barack Obama met “briefly” with his Pakistani counterpart twice on the sidelines of NATO summit in Chicago, the White House said. According to a White House readout, Obama “spoke briefly with President Zardari twice” – first in a “brief one-on-one conversation as they made their way into the ISAF meeting”, and later in the afternoon in the presence of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. They underscored their “shared commitment to an Afghan-led reconciliation process to bring the war to a responsible end”. At a press briefing after the summit concluded, Obama told reporters that he emphasised to Zardari that Pakistan “has to be part of the solution in Afghanistan,” and the two countries “share a common enemy of extremists,” and need to work through some of the tensions created during the ten years of US military presence in the region. The two sides failed to reach an agreement to reopen the supply route from Pakistan to Afghanistan at the summit, casting a pall over the alliance’s way forward in the country. Obama and Zardari did not have a formal bilateral meeting at the summit. Obama said Zardari shared his belief that issues between Pakistan and NATO, as well as the United States would be resolved, and the supply route would be reopened soon. The supply lines, through which about 40 percent of NATO’s non-lethal supplies had passed, were closed in late November after 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed in US air strikes at a Pakistani border check post at Salala.