PM to explain comments to Pakistan's President today

Click to follow

David Cameron came face to face with Pakistan's President, Asif Ali Zardari, last night but an explanation for his controversial remarks about the export of terrorism will have to wait.

The Prime Minister is holding talks at Chequers with Mr Zardari, whose visit to Britain has gone ahead despite the disaster caused by heavy monsoon rains in Pakistan and the threat of a diplomatic rift set off by Mr Cameron's remarks.

Last night's event was an informal dinner organised by the International Development minister, Alan Duncan, in honour of Mr Zardari's late wife, the former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in December 2007. Mr Duncan is an old friend of the Bhutto family. Downing Street called the dinner a private occasion where most guests were family friends.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister's office denied that Mr Cameron had been snubbed by the President, who returned to London after the dinner, instead of staying overnight. A spokesman said Mr Cameron was delighted that the President was able to be at the dinner at all.

Today's meeting will be less relaxed. Mr Zardari is expected to chide Mr Cameron for his public warning to Pakistan not to "promote the export of terror whether to India, whether to Afghanistan or to anywhere else in the world". In Karachi, protesters burned an effigy of Mr Cameron following his remarks. The Afghan war is expected to feature prominently in today's discussions, along with the need to co-operate in combatting terrorism. The leaders will also discuss the international response to the floods in Pakistan, to which Britain has contributed £5m, through Unicef, to support emergency relief for 800,000 people. They are also likely to talk about how to increase bilateral trade.

Yesterday, Mr Zardari met the Home Secretary, Theresa May, the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, and the Conservative Party chairman, Baroness Warsi. He also spoke on the telephone to Gordon Brown and to the former Labour foreign secretary, David Miliband, who criticised Mr Cameron's remarks in India, likening him to a "loudmouth".

Tomorrow, Mr Zardari will address a rally of his Pakistan Peoples Party in Birmingham before departing to Syria. As reported in The Independent, the President is expected to use the rally to launch the political career of his son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, 21.