Sharif wants stronger US-Pak relationship: White House

Last Updated: Saturday, September 21, 2013 - 10:26

Washington: Pakistan`s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif seems willing to rebuild a strong relationship with the US putting behind past differences, when he meets President Barack Obama, the White house has said.

"We do expect that we`d like to have a formal meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan in the near future. So it`s a matter of making sure that we can find an appropriate time for both leaders to come together," the White House Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications, Ben Rhodes, said yesterday.

Obama had a "good set of discussions" on the phone with Sharif when the US President called him after his electoral victory, he said.

"I think our impression is that the Sharif government wants to find a basis to rebuild a stronger US- Pakistan relationship, that they`re gonna be very clear about what their interests are and when they have differences on some issues, but that we both still believe that our nations benefit when we can find ways to work together on issues related to counter-terrorism, on issues related to economic growth and development inside of Pakistan, but also on regional stability," said Rhodes.

Rhodes, however, ruled out a meeting between Obama and Sharif on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York. Obama is scheduled to meet Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Washington on September 27. Indian and Pakistani premiers are expected to meet in New York later that weekend.

As the US looks toward the end of war in Afghanistan in 2014, the Obama Administration has made clear that one of the pillars of their strategy is a regional stability, Rhodes said.

"So even as we are strengthening the Afghan government and security forces, and even as we are supporting an Afghan-led peace process between the government and those elements of the Taliban that will pursue their goals peacefully, that we also want to make sure that Pakistan is again part of the picture and part of the solution, in terms of regional peace and security and stability, particularly given, again, how many groups have operated across that border," Rhodes said.

"We want to ensure that we`re enlisting Pakistan as a partner. But we also want to help ensure that Pakistan and Afghanistan are finding ways to bridge their mistrust and to build deeper cooperation, because, again, we believe that a strong and positive relationships between Pakistan and Afghanistan fill the interests of both countries and the United States as well," the top Obama aide said.

Rhodes added that he think that the Sharif government provides that opportunity, which will be reflected when Secretary of State John Kerry meets Pakistan`s premier in New York and in any future discussions that Obama will have with him.

PTI




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