LONDON – Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf (search) was in London on Monday to meet with Prime Minister Tony Blair (search) for talks set to be dominated by the fight against terrorism and the search for peace in the Middle East.
Pakistan is a key ally in the U.S.-led war on terror and Musharraf won praise in Washington last week from President Bush for his cooperation in the hunt for Usama bin Laden (search).
The trail has gone cold, however, and efforts to find the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and stabilize the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan is on the leaders' agenda, officials said.
Blair and Musharraf are also expected to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
The issue is Britain's foreign policy priority and Blair has said it is "the single most pressing political challenge in our world today." At the White House on Saturday, Musharraf said resolving the dispute is "the most important issue ... in the interest of peace in the whole world."
Blair and Musharraf will also discuss the recent thaw in relations between Pakistan and India, the upcoming elections in Iraq, United Nations reform and a host of bilateral issues including trade, officials said.
It was unclear whether Blair would raise one area of concern — Musharraf's backtracking on a pledge to relinquish his military post by the end of the year. The general seized power in a bloodless coup in 1999, and Pakistan was suspended from the Commonwealth's decision-making councils.
It was readmitted in May in recognition of democratic reforms and Musharraf's pledge to stand down as head of the army by Dec. 31. But a few weeks ago he indicated he might renege on that promise and Parliament passed a bill last month allowing him to remain head of state and army chief beyond the end of 2004.
Musharraf is accompanied on his three-day visit by Foreign Minister Khursheed Kasuri, Minister for Commerce Humayun Akhtar Khan and Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed.
He is scheduled to address the Pakistani community in London and the northern city of Manchester, speak with lawmakers in the House of Commons and give a speech to the International Institute of Strategic Studies.