Sharif leaves for US, India may figure in talks

Islamabad, Oct 19 (IANS) Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif left Saturday on a three-day visit to the US where he will discuss a slew of issues including ties with India, officials said.

The Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) quoted Sharif as saying that he would discuss with US officials the situation in South Asia, including the latest scenario in Afghanistan.

Pakistan-India relations may also figure during the meetings, APP said.

Sharif will meet US President Barack Obama Oct 23 and discuss ways to strengthen bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

Washington and Islamabad expect a new phase in their relationship when the US forces withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014 after more than 12 years of war with the Taliban.

The prime minister is expected to underline the implications of the 2014 Afghan transition on Pakistan.

During the visit, Sharif will also meet US Vice President Joe Biden.

He will attend a business event organised by the US-Pakistan Business Council and will interact with the Pakistani-American community, Xinhua cited Pakistan's foreign ministry as saying in a statement Friday.

"The upcoming visit of the prime minister will afford an opportunity to highlight the priorities of the government for economic development of Pakistan, discuss measures to strengthen bilateral cooperation, enhance trade and investment and share his vision about peace and stability in our region," the statement said.

Sharif and Obama had a telephone conversation in May, during which Obama congratulated Sharif on his party's victory in the general elections and appreciated the smooth democratic transition in Pakistan, it added.

Sharif will also interact with Secretary of State John Kerry as well as Congressional leaders on Capitol Hill.

The White House said Sharif's visit "will highlight the importance and resilience of the US-Pakistan relationship and provide an opportunity for us to strengthen cooperation on issues of mutual concern".

It identified these areas as energy, trade and economic development, and regional stability.

"The president looks forward to discussions with Sharif on ways we can advance our shared interest of a stable, secure and prosperous Pakistan," a White House statement added.

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