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France sees Pakistan as partner, says Zardari

media Pakistani Asif Ali Zardari Reuters

France sees Pakistan as a reliable friend, President Ali Asif Zardari said Monday after meeting his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris.

"France feels that Pakistan is a responsible partner with them in the world," Zardari told reporters at the Elysee Palace, adding that Sarkozy would visit Pakistan later in the year.

The talks took place on the first day of a five-day trip by Zardari to France and Britain, a visit which has been overshadowed by British Prime Minister David Cameron's charge that elements in Pakistan "export terror".

Zardari did not explicitly address the British allegations, and French officials had previously said that Sarkozy would raise security concerns in his talks with the Pakistani leader.

"I have the president's word that he is coming to Pakistan by the end of the year," Zardari said after leaving the talks with Sarkozy.

"Pakistan's issues, problems, whether it's the flood or whether it's terrorism, he is fully aware of that. He is an international leader who understands, and he is someone who feels for the people of Pakistan.

"So we've come to an understanding that France will be helping us, and we will obviously support the French positions in different situations."

Zardari has further meetings in Paris, notably lunch with Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, and is due to fly on to Britain late Tuesday. He will meet Cameron on Friday at the British leader's country retreat.


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