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‘Delegation’s expenses were borne by Asif’

November 07, 2008

ISLAMABAD, Nov 6: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has denied reports that expenses on the delegation which accompanied President Asif Ali Zardari to Saudi Arabia were borne by the government.

Talking to reporters here on Thursday, he said he wanted to clarify that the expenses of the ‘large’ delegation were borne by the president.Mr Zardari went to Saudi Arabia on a two-day visit on Tuesday with a delegation of up to 200 people to seek financial assistance package from the kingdom.

Sources told Dawn that the president’s visit to Saudi Arabia involved three chartered flights. An advance party had gone on Monday. Most members of the delegation were Mr Zardari’s friends and close aides who were taken to perform Umrah.

The president had only 15 people with him in his plane – his personal staff and some friends. No federal minister or senior bureaucrat was in that flight.

The other chartered flight carried 175 people, mostly friends and close aides of the president. Ministers and government officials who were in the plane included National Assembly Deputy Speaker Faisal Kundi, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Adviser Shaukat Tarin, Minister for Labour and Manpower Khursheed Shah, Law Minister Farooq H. Naek, Interior Adviser Rehman Malik and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr Babar Awan.