Sharif to meet Obama today, to raise drone and Kashmir issues

Washington, Oct 23: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is all set to meet President Barack Obama on Wednesday at the White House, where the former intends to raise the issue of drone attacks in Pakistan and seek American assistance on resolving the Kashmir issue, although the US considers it as a bilateral matter between India and its neighbour.

The officials on both sides said the two leaders would chalk out an action plan to not only address their differences, but to also put their relationship on a strong footing. Obama and Sharif are scheduled to meet for about 90 minutes, which has components of both delegation level talks and provision of one-on-one meeting between the two leaders.

Ahead of the meeting, the White House said it will highlight the importance and resilience of the US-Pakistan relationship and provide an opportunity to strengthen cooperation on issues of mutual concern, such as energy, trade and economic development, regional stability, and countering violent extremism.

On Tuesday, in his interaction with the think-tank community of Washington, Sharif made it clear that he intends to raise the issue of drone attacks and seek American assistance on resolving the Kashmir issues, which the Obama Administration has repeatedly said it does not want to get involved into. "We see this as a very realistic and pragmatic partnership, one that would remain focused on people's interest," an administrative official said.

"I would stress the need for an end to drone attacks," Sharif said in his address to the US Institute of Peace (USIP). "With its growing influence in India, the US now has the capacity to do more, to help the two sides resolve their core disputes, including Kashmir, and in promoting a culture of cooperation," the Pak Prime Minister said in his USIP address.

However, Obama is expected to strongly raise the issue of terrorism emanating from the soil of Pakistan and would stress on the need of Islamabad to co-operate fully on the peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan, as the United States prepares to drawdown its troops from the country by the end of 2014.


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