Zee Media Bureau/Supriya Jha
Washington: Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is on a four-day trip to the US, met US Secretary of State John Kerry over dinner in Washington on Sunday night, with the latter saying that the relationship with Pakistan “could not be more important”.
Welcoming Sharif, Kerry said, “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.”
"We have a lot to talk about, and the relationship with Pakistan could not be more important.. On its own, (Pakistan is) a democracy that is working hard to gets its economy moving and deal with insurgency, and also important to the regional stability," Kerry said.
A statement issued by the US State Department said that it was the third meeting between Kerry and Sharif in three months, and “continued the robust dialogue on our shared goal of a stable, secure and prosperous Pakistan”.
Kerry’s comments come as the ties between the two countries seem to be straightening out after a strained episode caused by the recurrent drone strikes in Pakistan’s restive tribal regions and especially due to 2011 Osama raid.
Even though, the US earlier snubbed Pakistan’s call to intervene on Kashmir issue, ruling out any intention to dabble on the issue related to India, Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the Washington might see the ties between the two softening.
Reacting to Nawaz Sharif’s comment that the US must intervene on the K-word as both India and Pakistan were nuclear powers with Kashmir as the nuclear flashpoint, a top US official said that the US won’t change its stance on the issue as it was a bilateral topic between the two South Asian neigbours.
“On Kashmir, our policy has not changed an iota,” the official said.
Sharif, who is on a four day trip to the US, will hold a series of meetings with the top officials and lawmakers on Capitol Hill and is set to meet US President Barack Obama on October 23, Wednesday.
Sharif is accompanied by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani.
Sharif`s visit comes nearly a month after Indian PM Manmohan Singh met Obama on September 27 at the White House.
Meanwhile what is set to boost the US-Pak ties, officials reportedly said that the Obama administration is set to release more than $1.6 billion in military and economic aid to Islamabad.
The US had suspended a part of the funding to Pakistan after the relations between the two countries hit a new low after a unilateral American raid in Abbottabad in 2011 and a raid on Salala border checkpost in November the same year which prompted Pakistan to block NATO supply routes.