"I think it's clear that Pakistan's relationship with India is critical to Pakistan's future, and the normalisation of relations between the two countries is vital both to them and to the stability in the region," the White House Deputy Press Secretary, Eric Schultz, told reporters soon after President Barack Obama held wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in his Oval Office.
The references to Indo-Pak ties and the need to resolve all outstanding disputes, including Kashmir, between the two countries were contained in the joint statement. The two leaders underlined that improvement in Pakistan- India bilateral relations would "greatly enhance" prospects for lasting peace, stability, and prosperity in the region.
Responding to a question, Schultz said, "We talked earlier about economic linkages and a broader view of the US-Pakistan relationship beyond just counter-terrorism, and I think it is discussions like the one the President had today that helps unlock opportunities for millions of people and leads to a more prosperous region which no doubt will go a long way towards counter-terrorism efforts."
On media reports that the US has decided to sell eight new F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, Schultz said no such announcement is expected today.
"I am confident that in the Oval Office, the President did discuss with the Prime Minister how the United States and Pakistan can best continue their robust counter-terrorism cooperation," he said.
"I saw that report in the New York Times as well -- I'm not sure if that came up. But I don't anticipate having any largescale announcement like that today," Schultz said.
"I can tell you that the President did discuss with the Prime Minister how the United States and Pakistan can best continue their robust counter-terrorism cooperation, but in terms of any defence deal like those that might have been referenced in the New York Times, I don't believe any announcement like that is coming today, but you should stay in touch with our friends at the Defence Department," the Deputy Spokesman said.
Earlier, a New York Times report said the Congress was notified about the proposed sale of F-16s just days ahead of the Sharif-Obama meeting though it is unclear if it will agree to the deal amid concerns whether the advanced aircraft would be used against India than for counter-terrorism.