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John Kerry invites PM Sharif to US for talks with Obama

Washington, PTI | Updated : 01 August 2013, 05:41 PM

US Secretary of State John Kerry Thursday invited Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for talks with President Barack Obama during a visit to Islamabad.

"To ensure that we continue our important bilateral conversation at the highest levels I have extended on behalf of the president of the United States an invitation to Prime Minister Sharif to meet with the president at a bilateral meeting with him in the United States this fall," Kerry said.

Kerry, the most senior US official to visit Pakistan since Sharif was elected in May, was speaking after talks with senior government officials.

The nuclear-armed state is a key but fractious ally in the 12-year-war against Al-Qaeda. The most public dispute is the US drone strikes on militants that Islamabad officially condemns.

Kerry said the two sides had agreed to resume strategic dialogue to foster "deeper, broader and more comprehensive partnership" after a two-year period that saw relations stumble from crisis to crisis.

"I can tell you unequivocally that we do share a long-term vision of the relationship and I believe that in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif we have someone who's committed to try to grow that relationship," Kerry told reporters.

Washington is determined to move the relationship with Pakistan to a full partnership and find ways to deal with "individual issues that have been irritants over the last years", Kerry said, adding that Obama was looking forward to meeting Sharif "in a month or so in the US".

Pakistani-US relations have recovered somewhat from the crisis sparked by the US killing of Al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May 2011.

Although leaked documents show Pakistani leaders have privately supported US drone strikes on Taliban and Al-Qaeda operatives, the government officially condemns them as a violation of sovereignty.

First Published: Thursday, August 01, 2013 05:39 PM
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