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WASHINGTON: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said Wednesday he urged US President Barack Obama to end drone strikes in Pakistan, touching on a thorny subject in relations between the two countries.

Prime Minister Sharif and President Obama were speaking after a 90-minute long one-on-one meeting at the White House’s Oval Office.

“I also brought up the issue of drones in our meeting, emphasising the need to end ... such strikes,” said the prime minister.

For his part, Obama made no mention of drones and remained silent over the issue.

Obama, however, said he wanted to prevent security cooperation from being a source of tension between the US and Pakistan.

Sharif said he brought up the issue of US drone strikes in Pakistan and told the American president that the strikes need to end.

Obama said fighting terrorism was a challenge and was not easy, adding that he and Sharif discussed security and how they can cooperate in ways agreeable to Pakistan.

He added that cooperation would also be extended to Pakistan with regards to the economy and energy crises faced by the country.

The premier said the two leaders discussed Pakistan's ties with India, including the Kashmir issue. Obama agreed saying Afghanistan and India were also on the agenda.

With US forces preparing to pull out of Afghanistan next year, Obama pledged to brief Sharif fully and to work toward an Afghanistan that is “stable and secure, its sovereignty respected.”

”I'm confident that, working together, we can achieve a goal that is good for Afghanistan, but also helps to protect Pakistan in the long term,” Obama told reporters at the Oval Office.

During discussions over the Kashmir dispute, Obama praised Sharif for seeking to end tensions between the two neighbours.

''Billions of dollars have been spent on an arms race in response to these tensions,'' Obama said. ''Those resources could be much more properly invested in education, social welfare programs."

Moreover, Sharif also invited the US president to visit Pakistan but the invitation was not publicly accepted by Obama.

Earlier, Sharif was welcomed to the White House Wednesday by a military honour guard lining the driveway leading to the West Wing. The premier was accompanied by his special assistant on foreign affairs Tariq Fatemi and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.

Prior to the meeting, officials in both countries were hoping to scale back tensions that escalated after the 2011 US strike inside Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden and last year's accidental killing of two dozen Pakistani troops in an American airstrike along the Afghan border.

“We want to find ways for our countries to cooperate, even as we have differences on some issues, and we want to make sure that the trajectory of this relationship is a positive one,” White House spokesman Jay Carney had said earlier.

Ahead of his talks with Obama, Sharif had held a breakfast meeting with Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday.

The prime minister's visit to the White House came a day after the Amnesty International released a report providing new details about the alleged victims of US drone attacks in Pakistan, one of them a 68-year-old grandmother who was hit while farming with her grandchildren.

In Pakistan, there is widespread belief that American drone strikes kill large numbers of civilians.

The White House responded to the Amnesty report by defending the drone program, with Carney saying US counter-terrorism operations “are precise, they are lawful and they are effective.”

Ahead of the withdrawal, the US is seeking to push through a peace deal between the Afghan Taliban and the government in Kabul.

Pakistan is seen as key to this process because of its historical connection to the Taliban. It helped the group grab power in Afghanistan in 1996 and is widely believed to have maintained ties as a hedge against neighbour and rival India – an allegation denied by Islamabad.

Ahead of his trip to the US, Sharif said he planned to ask Obama for American intervention in resolving the Kashmir dispute. – AP/Reuters/

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Comments (16) Closed

Oct 23, 2013 10:10pm

Pakistan is sinking in corruption, selfish leaders who can

saderuddin noorani
Oct 24, 2013 01:38am

Why the Pakistan Flag has yellow border, where as in our flag there is no border.

Oct 24, 2013 02:12am

Let us be proud of our Prime Minister.

Oct 24, 2013 02:42am

I have been trying different American websites - cnn, fox, nytimes, etc. to see if they would mention about the meeting between our prime minister and the president of the United States - but haven't found anything. And yet, I saw Malala seeing Obama as soon as it happened. I am sure any other leader would have received more respect than Sharif did. I don't know what to make of it, but it seems we need to work a lot harder to rebuild our image.

Mohammed AyubSheikh
Oct 24, 2013 02:42am

Nawaz will not have guts to be effective to stop drone strikes becos he himself is a drone for Pakistani people. Army of Pakitan can have better influence to tell Obama administration to end this crisis.

Chris Ford
Oct 24, 2013 03:42am

I feel so sorry for Pakistan. You have 20% modernized, westernized Pakis in a sea of 80% odious violent, ignorant Islamoids. But not sorry enough to think it is America's "moral obligation" to nation-build them or be their ally no matter what.

Chris Ford
Oct 24, 2013 03:44am

Only good thing I can say from the picture........the lady next to Sharif is pretty.

Oct 24, 2013 04:12am

Sharif was allocated two hours of Obama's time - you can bet money he didn't waste much of it talking about drones. Sharif wants/needs money - but Obama is limited in what he can provide since he already agreed to release the funds authorized by Congress. Bottom line - unless Pakistan can do something major to change Congress negative perception of Pakistan once the $1.6 billion has been doled out your may not be getting anymore.

Oct 24, 2013 05:07am

We don't believe Obama here in the States when he talks so I don't know why you would. I wouldn't count on him changing the one thing he is doing right! Drone on!

Oct 24, 2013 05:53am

This is such a shame. Pakistan is being bombarded and all he can say is "I urge you" pathetic. The whole concept of sovereign state is gone. There has to be unconditional stop to drone attacks and new honest talks need to reconvene to better tackle the extremist elements both in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Oct 24, 2013 07:47am

The net result or the outcome of the two leaders ended after 90-minutes of talk where MNS discussed mainly on drones for few seconds whereby no as expected commitment was done by Obama otherwise main focus was relations with India & aid to Pakistan where our country is open to any kind of money coming to us.Finally meeeting is over & now the govt in power with ppl like Pervaiz Rasheed will focus on how successful the meeting was & MNS discussed all the issues.MNS invited Obama to visit Raiwind also.

fahim riaz
Oct 24, 2013 09:29am

sharif visit is totaly fail.he is not a visionary man

Oct 24, 2013 10:48am

URGED - That word speaks a lot about the weight Pakistan is able to throw on international stage.

Oct 24, 2013 02:27pm

Whats with the golden ribbon on Pakistani flag.... come on,, i would prefer a plane flag. Who puts a golden ribbon? Otherwise, its good points raised. Good job PM. But please get rid of the Golden Ribbon.

Oct 24, 2013 05:39pm

Oct 26, 2013 09:19pm

The elephant in the room is the presence of terrorists within Pakistani border, who go across and attack the NATO forces, which Pakistan seems to totally ignore. Unless Pakistan can contain and reign in the terrorists within its borders, it has no moral right to ask NATO to stop the drone strikes. It is pathetic that Pakistan does not even know what is good for it or rather what is bad for it. Terrorists in Pakistan are more bad for Pakistan than they are for NATO. Thank NATO for eliminating them instead of blaming them.