Obama to welcome Zaradri today


US President Barack Obama will on Friday welcome President Asif Ali Zardari to the White House for talks on ties between the uneasy war partners, spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

Zardari was heading to Washington to take part in a memorial service for Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan who died last month at age 69.

Obama and Zardari “will discuss aspects of the US-Pakistan strategic partnership, including our mutual commitment to economic reform, support for democracy and good governance, and joint efforts to combat terrorism,” Gibbs told reporters.

The meeting comes just after Vice President Joe Biden paid a visit to Pakistan, which has been a key but complicated partner in the US-led campaign against Islamic extremism.

Biden, taking aim at rampant anti-Americanism in Pakistan, said that the United States was not “the enemy of Islam” as he pledged continued support for the country.

Obama, ahead of a visit to Pakistan’s historic rival India last year, invited Zardari and promised to visit his country in 2011.