Sharif looks forward to talks with Obama

Washington, Oct 21 (IANS) Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has said he looks forward to his meeting with US President Barack Obama Wednesday for discussions on an array of subjects.

This would be the first summit level interaction between the two countries after the historic democratic transition in Pakistan earlier this year.

US Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a dinner for Sharif soon after his arrival in Washington. Senior Obama administration officials attended, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, National Security Advisor Susan Rice, CIA Director John Brennan and Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan James Dobbins, the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP) reported Monday.

Kerry said Sharif's visit would provide the necessary impetus to further deepen and expand the US-Pakistan relations.

Pakistan is an important country in the South Asia region and the US would be working with the democratic government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in all areas of bilateral relations under the revived mechanism of the strategic dialogue, Kerry said.

Sharif reiterated his determination to revive the economy and improve the law and order situation in Pakistan.

He emphasised the need for working together to meet the common challenges of extremism and terrorism.

Other matters of mutual interest, including stability in the South Asia region and the situation in Afghanistan, were also discussed during the dinner meeting, the Pakistani embassy in Washington said.

Sharif was accompanied by Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi and Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani.

The US State Department said: "Secretary Kerry's meeting with Sharif is their third in three months, and continued the robust dialogue on our shared goal of a stable, secure, and prosperous Pakistan."

"Discussions covered a broad range of domestic and regional issues, including peace and security, counterterrorism cooperation, collaboration on Pakistan's energy sector, increasing bilateral trade and investment, and the common interest in a secure and stable Afghanistan," it added.

The office of the State Department spokesperson said, "Both sides agreed on the importance of our continued counterterrorism cooperation, and that extremism is countered in part by opportunities arising from greater economic stability".

Earlier, Kerry said Sharif would have a series of high-level meetings, including discussions with Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama at the White House, Wednesday.

"We're very anxious to have a series of high-level, important discussions over the course of the next few days," Kerry said.