US asks Pakistan to continue to combat terrorism

Washington, Oct 23 (IANS) As Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif headed for a meeting with President Barack Obama, the US set the tone for discussions with a call to together "continue to combat terrorism and violent extremism".

The call was made by Vice President Joe Biden who met Sharif over breakfast at his Naval Observatory residence ahead of the session in the afternoon in Obama's Oval office at the White House.

"The Vice President affirmed to the Prime Minister that together we must continue to combat terrorism and violent extremism and work to strengthen regional and global security," said the White House readout of the meeting.

Biden, it said, "reaffirmed the US commitment to strengthening bilateral ties in support of a strong, democratic, prosperous Pakistan."

The two also discussed many of the economic and development challenges that Pakistan faces and the steps the Prime Minister is taking to address them, it added.

Biden also congratulated Sharif on his historic election in May which led to the first democratic transfer of power between elected governments in Pakistan's history, the readout said.

Unlike last month's summit with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Obama is not hosting any meal for Sharif and would meet him in the Oval Office after having lunch with his own vice president who would also join the afternoon session.

As indicated by the morning meeting, the Oval Office session is likely to focus on terrorism as they sit down to "find ways for our countries to cooperate, even as we have differences on some issues," as the White House has put it.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

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