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Pakistan President Accepts NATO Summit Invite

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari is flanked by his Afghan and Iranian counterparts, Hamid Karzai (left) and Mahmud Ahmadinejad, after a joint press conference in Islamabad in February.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari will attend a summit of NATO leaders in Chicago this weekend, according to a spokesman.

NATO said earlier in the day that it had invited Pakistan to the summit, ending speculation that Islamabad might be excluded amid severely strained ties with the alliance prompted by a NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.

Nadeem Hotiana, a spokesman for the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, said Zardari is planning to attend the May 20-21 summit.

The announcement came as Pakistani leaders were meeting in Islamabad to discuss whether to reopen Pakistan's border to convoys carrying supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan.

The Chicago summit is expected to center on NATO plans to gradually withdraw from Afghanistan, where the Taliban continues its insurgency over a decade after its government was toppled.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP