Cameron and Zardari at loggerheads as talks approach

By politics.co.uk staff

David Cameron and Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari continued their animosity-filled build-up to talks on Friday by disagreeing on the state of the war against the Taliban.

Mr Zardari said earlier this week the prime minister’s comments that Pakistan could not “look both ways” in the struggle against extremism were “uncalled for”.

Yesterday Mr Cameron said he stood by his comments. But Mr Zardawi quickly hit back by suggesting the west was losing the war in Afghanistan.

“I believe that the international community, which Pakistan belongs to, is in the process of losing the war against the Taliban, and that is, above all, because we have lost the battle for hearts and minds,” he told Le Monde newspaper.

Mr Cameron deepened the divide between the pair by quickly distancing himself from Mr Zardari’s view.

“The key thing is to build on the relationship we have and to make sure we’re cooperating on security issues,” he said yesterday.

“The terrorists have done enormous harm in Pakistan itself.”

US president Barack Obama made clear through his press secretary he also disagreed with Mr Zardari’s comments.

Mr Cameron and Mr Zardari will meet for face-to-face talks at Chequers on Friday.

“I would explain to him that it’s my country that has paid the highest price in this war in human life. This frank discussion could give us some serenity,” the Pakistani president said.

“That is why I didn’t cancel my trip to London despite this grave error. Our relationship [is] ancient and solid enough for that.”