US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari yesterday and thanked him for Pakistan’s handling of several days of violent anti-US protests.
Clinton greeted Zardari as “my friend” and introduced him to the new US ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Olson, whom she said she had just been sworn in so he could attend their talks.
Zardari said it had been “a difficult time for all of us” before reporters were ushered out of the room.
Pakistan has been rocked by days of violent protests in its major cities as demonstrations have swept Muslim countries in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia over an anti-Islam film.
Friday’s protests left 21 dead, and more than 200 injured as Pakistani police fought back to disperse crowds around US diplomatic missions.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar insisted on Friday that ties between the United States and Pakistan are improving after hitting a low following the killing of Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani compound in May 2011, and a US airstrike in November which killed 24 Pakistani troops.
“We have been through some of the most difficult times in our 60-year history,” Khar said before talks with Clinton in Washington, admitting “the last 18 months were very, very difficult.”
But she said amid concerted efforts the two nations were doing “better than we could have expected to do in building the trust.”