Musharraf will likely meet Sharon

Pakistan's president Pervez Musharraf is expected to have a 'chance meeting' with Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon on Wednesday or Thursday while both leaders are in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly meeting, the Pakistani newspaper Dawn reports.

Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, Jehangir Karamat, had said earlier this month that such a meeting would take place. However, a foreign office spokesman later objected saying that no meeting was planned.

A senior diplomatic source said on Tuesday that both the ambassador and the spokesman were right. “There will be no planned meeting. Both the leaders will happen to be at the same place at the same time and will shake hands.”

Karamat had said that since “all heads of states and governments will be attending the UN General Assembly, they will have a chance meeting.” President Musharraf and Prime Minister Sharon are both attending the current session of the UN General Assembly.

Explaining Pakistan’s position on Israel, the source said: “We have told them in unequivocal terms that these contacts cannot lead to a formal recognition. The recognition will only happen when the Palestinian issue is amicably resolved.”

He said that by approaching Israel, Pakistan wanted to soften up those lobbies that had traditionally been hostile to Islamabad, the AKI reports.

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