Musharraf-Bush meeting likely

Published November 20, 2004

WASHINGTON, Nov 19: The White House is looking positively at a request from Pakistan for a meeting between President Pervez Musharraf and US President George W. Bush early next month, diplomatic sources told Dawn on Friday.

Diplomatic sources in Washington told Dawn that Mr Bush is also interested in a meeting with the Pakistani leader but it has not yet been finalized. "It is not yet a done deal, but it's very likely," a senior diplomatic source said.

The Pakistani president is likely to make a technical stopover in Washington for refueling of his aircraft while returning home from Latin America, the source said. Gen Musharraf leaves home on Nov 25 on a five-nation tour that will take him to Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, France and Britain.

Diplomatic sources in Washington say that it will be a "purely personal meeting" with no agenda. "President Musharraf wants to personally congratulate President Bush on his re-election.

That is it," said a senior Pakistani official. Gen Musharraf, who joined the US-led "coalition against terror" after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, is considered a close ally of President Bush.

Last week at a briefing, Mr Bush referred to the Pakistani leader as his "good friend." The president last visited the United States in September to attend the UN General Assembly in New York. On the sidelines of the UN session, he also met Mr Bush.

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