Sharif, Kerry discuss Afghanistan
WASHINGTON (PAN): Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who arrived here on Sunday for a four-day official visit, held talks with Secretary of State John Kerry on the situation in Afghanistan and other issues of common interest.
“The discussion covered the common interest in a secure and stable Afghanistan,” the State Department said, after Kerry welcomed Sharif for a meeting at Foggy Bottom headquarters. This meeting was followed by a working dinner with the visiting foreign dignitary.
“Kerry's meeting with the Prime Minister is their third in three months, and continued the robust dialogue on our shared goal of a stable, secure, and prosperous Pakistan,” the State Department said.
It said the discussions also covered a broad range of domestic and regional issues, including peace and security, counterterrorism cooperation, collaboration on Pakistan's energy sector, increasing bilateral trade and investment, and the common interest in a secure and stable Afghanistan.
Welcoming Sharif at the State Department, Kerry reiterated the significance of relationship of US with Pakistan.
“We’re very anxious to have a series of high-level, important discussions over the course of the next few days – the Vice President, the President, tonight’s dinner.”
Kerry said: “We have a lot to talk about and the relationship with Pakistan could not be more important.”
Sharif was accompanied by his finance minister Ishaq Dar; adviser on national security and foreign affairs Sartaj Aziz, and Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani.
Earlier in the day, a senior administration official said it was a “historic visit”, given the democratic transition of power in Islamabad early this year.
“It is clear that the visit comes as bilateral relationship has strengthened in the past year and that strengthening offers relationship on a better footing,” the official told reporters during a conference call.
The element of the strategic partnership with Pakistan, he said, is going to be economic growth, countering violent extremism. “We see this as a very realistic and pragmatic partnership, one that would remain focused on people’s interest,” the official said.
During the four-day trip Sharif is scheduled to meet top officials of the US government ranging from those in the State Department, the Pentagon to Treasury, in addition to meeting lawmakers at the Capitol Hill.
He will meet US President Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday (October 23).
In Pakistan, local media said Sharif was accompanied by his wife and a delegation.
Speaking to reporters in London, Sharif said, "Pakistan's policy on all matters is clear and we have nothing to hide or be shy about. We want to work with the US and other world powers as a responsible country," Geo News reported.
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