US Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the State Department in Washington on October 20, 2013. Sharif arrived in the United States for talks, with the Afghan peace process and the prickly issue of Washington's drone campaign likely to top the agenda. Sharif meets President Barack Obama on October 23 with Washington keen to press the Pakistani premier to help faltering efforts to secure peace between Kabul and the Afghan Taliban. — Photo by AFP
US Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the State Department in Washington on October 20, 2013. Sharif arrived in the United States for talks, with the Afghan peace process and the prickly issue of Washington's drone campaign likely to top the agenda. Sharif meets President Barack Obama on October 23 with Washington keen to press the Pakistani premier to help faltering efforts to secure peace between Kabul and the Afghan Taliban. — Photo by AFP
Secretary of State John Kerry shake hands with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif prior to their meeting at the State Department in Washington, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013. — Photo by AP
Secretary of State John Kerry shake hands with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif prior to their meeting at the State Department in Washington, Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013. — Photo by AP
US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the State Department in Washington October 20, 2013. — Photo by Reuters
US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the State Department in Washington October 20, 2013. — Photo by Reuters

WASHINGTON: The US State Department has asked Congress to resume more than $300 million in blocked security assistance to Pakistan, officials said Sunday amid an upswing in relations.

The development came as Secretary of State John Kerry met with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is making his country's highest-level official visit to the United States in years.

“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,” Kerry said at the start of the meeting.

He added ''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.''

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke Sunday as he sat down with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is in Washington this week for talks with the White House.

Sharif did not speak during the brief session with reporters.

Moreover, Kerry declined to answer questions after brief remarks to reporters at the State Department.

But US officials say the Obama administration is posed to release more than $1.6 billion in military and economic aid to help bolster ties with Islamabad that have deteriorated over deadly American airstrikes and the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

The two men met over dinner, shortly before Kerry planned to head to Europe for peace talks for Syria and between Israel and Palestinian authorities.

He will be meeting with foreign ministers in Paris, London and Rome before returning to Washington on Thursday.

Sharif was elected in May, and Washington has praised his efforts to reduce tensions in South Asia.

Relations with the United States have also improved since they plunged to one of their lowest points in 2011 amid the killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a US commando raid in Pakistan, as well as the killing of 24 Pakistani soldiers in a US airstrike.

US security assistance was interrupted during that period, although $857 million in civilian assistance continued to flow, Harf said.

“As part of our annual funding process, throughout the course of this past summer the State Department notified Congress of how it planned to program funds from several different accounts for various programs in Pakistan.

“Funding was notified to Congress following a rigorous planning process over multiple months, to ensure it was in line with both US and Pakistani interests, and would deliver important results for both countries,” she said.

Harf said US security assistance would build the capabilities of Pakistan's security forces, “which is critical to countering violence in the western border regions.”

”And US civilian assistance to Pakistan has delivered real results on the issues most important to Prime Minister Sharif and all Pakistanis: energy, education and economic growth,” she added.

The Pakistani Prime Minister is also due to meet President Barack Obama on Wednesday. Kerry visited Islamabad in August.

Washington needs Pakistan's cooperation as it prepares to withdraw thousands of pieces of heavy equipment from Afghanistan before Nato combat operations end in late 2014.

It is also looking to Pakistan to try to help with reconciliation efforts between the Taliban and Afghan leaders.

The United States wants the Pakistani government to do more to crack down on militant havens.

Pakistan, meanwhile, is chafing at continued US drone strikes against militants on its territory.

Drones are “part of a very comprehensive conversation we have on security across the board,” a US official said ahead of the talks.

“As we talk about all these security issues that will be a key theme, not drones necessarily, but the security situation writ large.”


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Comments (7) (Closed)


Ahmer
Oct 21, 2013 08:44am

It is a rare honour that every US dignitary, President, Vice President and Secretary of State is meeting our Prime Minister.

Waqar
Oct 21, 2013 09:27am

Mian sahab, If you sincerely kept your pre-election promise of bring back all the looted wealth to Pakistan, there would not be any need of this slavery noose around your neck (and ours) for decades to come.

Abid Minhas
Oct 21, 2013 09:35am

Isn't this absolutely amazing. Even a child can see how the US in collaboration with our leaders in the past has completely destroyed the country. For us to go back again in this manner is to cement the destruction of the country ....

azmat khan
Oct 21, 2013 04:25pm

Good news.Buck up NS.

jhjkjh
Oct 21, 2013 05:59pm

@Waqar: Please stop whining and complaining about how politicians have looted the country. We all have known this for decades. So it's time to show what you have and can do for this country.

US CENTCOM
Oct 21, 2013 06:52pm

We share a common stance against terrorism, and our shared will and desire to stabilize the region continues to binds us together. It is easy to see that our nations are working hard to create a healthy working relationship. We’ve seen the negatives of staying on the opposites sides of the fence, and at the same time, we’ve greatly benefited from working closely. It only makes sense for us to be on the same page for the betterment of the region. These meetings allow us to address any shared concerns in regards to our common objectives. We are working hard to build on our improving relationship. We’ve always said that we cannot have a stable region without a stable Pakistan. We’ve always appreciated all of Pakistan’s sacrifices in the region and look forward to maintaining a good working relationship for the safety of our nations.

Ali Khan DET, United States Central Command

Genius boy
Oct 22, 2013 09:10am

@jhjkjh: You might be supporter of some ex government but you don't understand how terrible state has the previous government has left is in