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Zardari nearby during Pakistan blast

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Sept. 20 (UPI) -- The deadly suicide bombing at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad occurred hours after Asif Ali Zardari was sworn in Saturday as president of Pakistan.

In his inaugural speech, Zardari, widower of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, promised to end terrorism in the country. After the bombing, Zardari went on television, pledging once more to end the "cancer of terrorism," the BBC reported.

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At the time of the bombing, Zardari and the rest of the new government were nearby. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani hosted an iftar dinner, the traditional evening meal after the daylong fast in Ramadan, at the Secretariat, the Pak Tribune reported.

The five-star Marriott caters to foreign business travelers and officials and members of the Pakistani elite. The bomber struck at 8 p.m. when many Muslim guests were in the dining room, breaking their fast..

"The Taliban and the terrorists are saying this is war and we are here," Najam Sethi, editor of several liberal newspapers in Lahore, told Time magazine. "This was as close as you can get to the parliament where President Zardari was speaking earlier today. They have had a lot of time to prepare for this."

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