Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf may hang up his army uniform to pave the way for a pact with former prime minister Benazir Bhutto after the pair met in Abu Dhabi, a minister said on Monday.
Military ruler Musharraf and Bhutto met in Abu Dhabi on Friday for talks on a possible power-sharing deal but could not reach an understanding on two key issues, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sher Afgan Niazi told AFP.
The sticking points were the issue of Musharraf's dual role as president and army chief and a bar that prevents Bhutto having a third term as premier, Niazi said.
Bhutto, who has lived in self-imposed exile in London and Dubai since 1998 due to corruption claims against her, insisted on Sunday she would not strike a power-sharing deal with Musharraf so long as he remained the army chief.
Joint effort against "extremists"
"The two met in Abu Dhabi on Friday to hammer out a political understanding so that 'moderate forces can join hands to defeat extremists' in the coming general elections," Niazi said.
He said he believed that Musharraf "would be willing to shed his uniform if he has the PPP (Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party) and the ruling Pakistan Muslim League behind him."
The secret Bhutto-Musharraf meeting has still not been officially confirmed by their spokesmen.
Bhutto, who served as prime minister from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1996, told Sky News on Sunday that she would likely return from exile to stand in Pakistan's next general election, due by early next year.
However the 54-year-old could be jailed on the corruption charges that she still faces upon re-entering Pakistan.