Texas Governor Perry meets with former Pakistan leader

AUSTIN Tue Jul 12, 2011 5:19pm EDT

Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks during the 2011 Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana June 18, 2011. REUTERS/Lee Celano

Texas Governor Rick Perry speaks during the 2011 Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana June 18, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Lee Celano

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AUSTIN (Reuters) - Texas Governor Rick Perry told former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday that he wants to see the "historic" friendship between Pakistan and the United States continue in the face of recent conflicts over aid to that country's military, a spokesman said.

The Republican governor, who is considering running for president, had lunch with Musharraf at an Austin hotel at Musharraf's request, Miner said. Their wives were present for the initial meeting, but the lunch was private, he said.

"They just talked about the history between the two nations, and in this time of fighting terrorism, everyone is concerned any time there's conflict between these historic friends," said Perry spokesman Mark Miner."

"With what's going on right now, the governor said that he hopes the two governments can work their way through the conflicts," Miner said.

The United States Monday said it would hold back $800 million -- a third of nearly $2 billion in security aid to Pakistan -- in a show of displeasure over Pakistan's removal of U.S. military trainers, limits on visas for U.S. personnel and other bilateral irritants.

Pakistani military leaders responded with a threat to pull back troops fighting Islamist militants near the Afghan border if the United States cuts off aid.

Relations between the two countries have soured since U.S. Navy Seals in May killed Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden at his hideout in Pakistan.

On Tuesday in Austin, Perry refrained from criticizing the U.S. move to block aid, but expressed dismay that the relationship was strained, Miner said.

Musharraf was on a speaking tour this week that included stops in Houston and Dallas, Miner said. He wanted to talk to Perry about the Texas economy, he said.

"He wanted to talk to the governor about the economy and jobs and what Texas is doing right," Miner said. "One of the things they talked about how Texas is leading in job creation."

Perry, who for years touted Texas as an attractive state for employers, has made Texas job creation a consistent theme in his public appearances as he considers a presidential campaign.

Perry has spent years burnishing his international relations credentials with numerous trips abroad to visit troops, promote trade with Texas and discuss economic issues with representatives overseas.

In 2006, Perry visited Pakistan to view relief efforts after a hurricane devastated the country. Other trips included Israel and Iraq in 2009; Mexico, France and Sweden in 2008; and the United Arab Emirates in 2007, as well as Turkey, Israel and Jordan that same year.

Musharraf took office in 1999 in a coup, two years before the September11 attacks in 2001, and resigned in 2008. He has pledged to return to Pakistan before the next elections, due by 2013.

(Editing by Greg McCune)

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