Extremism,economy dominate Sharif’s US visit

A senior US official described Sharif’s visit as “historic”,to which Obama was eagerly looking forward to.

Written by Press Trust Of India | Washington | Published:October 21, 2013 12:10 am

Seeking to build on the recent “positive trajectory” in ties with Pakistan,President Barack Obama and top officials of his team will meet visiting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and discuss a wide range of issues of mutual concern including extremism.

When Sharif ends his four-day official trip to the US — first by a Pakistani leader in more than five years – he would have met top US officials like the Defence Secretary,the Commerce Secretary,the Energy Secretary,the Treasury Secretary,Trade Representatives and the USAID Administrator,besides the National Security Advisor.

Sharif,who kicked off his US trip soon after his arrival with a meeting and dinner with Secretary of State John Kerry at the State Department,would meet President Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden at the White House on Wednesday.

A senior US official described Sharif’s visit as “historic”,to which Obama was eagerly looking forward to.

“It is clear that the visit comes as the bilateral relationship has strengthened in the past year and that strengthening offers an opportunity to really put the relationship on a better footing and agenda on a realistic way,” the official said in a conference call with reporters.

“We see this as a very realistic and pragmatic partnership,one that would remain focused on people’s interest,” the official said,adding that the elements of the strategic partnership with Pakistan are going to be economic growth and countering violent extremism.

“The relationship is on a positive trajectory… I believe by the time the visit ends,he would have met every single senior administration official on issues of key areas of national interest for Pakistan on the security side as well as the economic side,” another official said on anonymity.

They said “economic growth” would be one of the key areas of discussions between Sharif and the US officials.

“This would be a core area of discussion. The fact that the visit would focus on many areas of economic and energy progress,outside the security area of discussion is important in itself,” they said explaining the significance of the trip.

Acknowledging that there are differences in perceptions of militancy between the two sides,they said the US would like to hear from Sharif on his ideas of dealing this important subject,including his recent move to start talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

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