WASHINGTON, Jan 29: Former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and her husband Asif Zardari would attend the White House prayer breakfast together to dispel media reports that they had separated, PPP officials said on Monday.

Ms Bhutto arrived in New York on Sunday to attend the annual event, which includes a two-day conference at the Washington Hilton.

“It is totally baseless,” said former PPP senator Khawja Akbar while commenting on the report. “Of course, she is staying with Mr Zardari in New York and they will attend the prayer breakfast together.”

The prayers, although called the White House prayer breakfast, are also held at the historical hotel where President Ronald Reagan was shot and wounded on March 30, 1981 as he came out after addressing a gathering.

Since the US Congress hosts the conference, a large number of lawmakers from both Republican and Democratic parties attend the entire proceedings.

This year’s conference is particularly important because of a change in Congress which passed from Republican to Democrats’ control in November’s mid-term elections.

“We hope that this change will also help the cause of democracy in Pakistan,” Mr Akbar said and noted that the new Congress had already taken up the issue of democracy in Pakistan in a resolution it adopted earlier this month.

“The new Congress has shown that it is not focused on the war on terrorism alone. For them, insurgency and democracy are both major concerns,” he said.

The senator said that Ms Bhutto would spend six days in Washington, meeting US lawmakers, government officials, members of the academia and media.

Prominent politicians, religious leaders, government officials and scholars come from all over the world to attend the prayer breakfast which President George W. Bush is scheduled to address as well.

“Ms Bhutto will obviously meet as many of these leaders as she can and emphasise the need for supporting democratic forces in Pakistan,” Mr Akbar said.

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