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India-Pak ties likely to figure in Obama-Sharif meeting

India-Pak ties likely to figure in Obama-Sharif meeting

Washington: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to discuss with Barack Obama his recent efforts to improve ties with India when he meets the US President at the White House next week, officials said on Saturday.

Sharif is arriving in Washington on Saturday on the first official visit of a Pakistani leader in the Obama administration.

In his meeting with Obama on Wednesday, which is taking place less than a month after the US president met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on September 27, among other things Sharif is expected to discuss the state of the India-Pak ties, officials familiar with the preparations said.

In fact, a senior state department official appreciated the recent steps taken by Sharif to improve his relationship with both the neighbors -- Afghanistan and India.

"Looking on the regional stability issues, on the bilateral that Sharif has had with Karzai, and with Singh, after UNGA (United Nations General assembly), in an effort to continue regional stability; the continued counter-terrorism assistance; and a range of things that have been kind of very steady signs of commitment to reform and a commitment to playing a very constructive role to build a peaceful and stable Pakistan within a more peaceful and stable region is really critical," the official said.

The official praised Pakistan's role in the reconciliation process in Afghanistan. "They've been very helpful on Afghan reconciliation issues."

"They're obviously keenly aware of what's happening next door in terms of the troop drawdown and want to have conversation about regional stability there, as well as regional stability with India. And we have obviously long pursued an effort to work together to combat terrorist safe havens, and want to continue working to support an Afghan-led reconciliation process," the official said.

"But there's an integration in many of these issues, and we want to figure out how we have the most comprehensive conversation about all these issues and about the synergies amongst many of these issues," the official said.

Obama would like to hear from Sharif in person his action plan to improve the relationship with India, the official said, adding it is not clear what issues Sharif plans to raise about India in his talks with Obama and other US officials.

Notably, Sharif had expressed his unhappiness after Singh in his meeting with Obama last month had described Pakistan as an epicenter of terrorism.


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