ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari will attend a key NATO summit on Afghanistan in Chicago on May 20-21 May, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.
"President Zardari would visit Chicago to attend the Twenty Fifth NATO Summit on 20-21 May 2012 at the invitation of NATO Secretary GeneralAnders Fogh Rasmussen," a Foreign Ministry statement said.
The decision to attend the summit was made after both the Federal Cabinet and the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) had endorsed the invitation, it said.
In Chicago, the President will address the Expanded ISAF Meeting of NATO and also meet various Heads of State and Government on the margins of the NATO Summit, the Foreign Ministry said.
He will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani.
The NATO Secretary General telephoned President Zardari Tuesday and invited him to the NATO summit, Presidential spokesman said.
Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani also confirmed to reporters in Islamabad on Thursday that President Zardari will attend the NATO summit. He said the invitation by NATO Secretary General for the NATO summit was unconditional and not linked to the opening of ground lines of communication for NATO or to any other issue . The NATO Secretary General had suggested on Friday that Pakistan could miss out on important talks on the future of Afghanistan if it fails to reopen the supply routes in time to secure a place at the NATO summit.
Pakistan had closed the supply lines to NATO forces in Afghanistan after 24 of its soldiers were killed in a NATO cross- border air attack last November.
Senior military and civilian leaders have taken a decision to reopen the supply routes amid growing U.S. pressure but a formal announcement would be made later, official sources said.
The sources said that invitation to the NATO summit was extended to Pakistan after the officials conveyed to the U.S. about the decision on unblocking the supply routes. The President is likely to take part in a meeting of the core group on Afghanistan along with President Barrack Obama and President Hamid Karzai, sources said.
Senior diplomats from the three countries had met in Islamabad last month after months of deadlock over NATO strike on Pakistani border posts and killing of 24 soldiers.