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Pakistani President to Head to China for Olympics


Pakistan's embattled President Pervez Musharraf has postponed his departure for China by one day, but officials say he will travel to Beijing on Thursday to attend the opening of the Olympic Games. VOA's Barry Newhouse reports from Islamabad that the president had been scheduled to leave Wednesday, but then pushed back his trip while his political opponents discussed impeaching the unpopular leader.

Early Wednesday, hours before Mr. Musharraf's expected departure, Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman told VOA that the trip had been canceled and Chinese officials had been notified. Asked why the president was canceling the trip, the spokesman refused to elaborate. But then several hours later, the foreign ministry released a statement saying the President will go to Beijing - but will be leaving on Thursday.

The uncertainty over Mr. Musharraf's foreign trip comes during the latest round of strategy talks among his political opponents. Pakistan's fractious coalition government has been deadlocked for months over a wide range of issues, including pursuing impeachment charges against Mr. Musharraf. But Pakistan People's Party leader Asif Zardari and Pakistan Muslim League - N leader Nawaz Sharif have been holding long meetings since Tuesday, raising expectations that they are near a deal.

Members of Mr. Musharraf's political party have dismissed the political threat to the president and urged him to attend the games. Senator Mushahid Hussein is a member of Mr. Musharraf's Pakistan Muslim League Q Party.

He says Mr. Musharraf should not have fears of being impeached. He said the president should not cancel the trip because China is a friend of Pakistan and by not attending he will be sending the wrong signal.

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