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Obama, Sharif Discuss Security Cooperation, Drones

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his visit to Washington
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during his visit to Washington
U.S. President Barack Obama says that fighting terrorism is a joint challenge facing the United States and Pakistan.

Obama made the comments at the White House on October 23 following a meeting with visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

"The United States considers Pakistan to be a very important strategic partner," Obama said. "We believe that if Pakistan is peaceful and secure and prosperous, that's not only good for Pakistan, it's good for the region and it's good for the world. And we want to do everything that we can to help the prime minister as he moves forward on a bold agenda to achieve that vision."

Sharif said that he asked Obama to end drone strikes on Pakistani territory, an issue that has spurred tensions between the two countries.

"Pakistan and the United States have strong ongoing counterterrorism cooperation," Sharif told journalists. "We have agreed to further strengthen this cooperation. I also brought up the issue of drones in our meeting , emphasizing the need for an end to such strikes."

Obama did not mention the drones in his comments after the meeting, but said the bilateral relationship is based on "the principles of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Obama noted that more than 40,000 Pakistanis have died in terrorist attacks in the last decade, and lauded Sharif's commitment to end the violence.

"More Pakistani civilians have been killed, obviously, by these terrorist attacks than anybody and so I know that the prime minister is very much committed to trying to reduce these incidents of terrorism inside of Pakistan's borders and the degree to which these activities may be exported to other countries," the U.S. president said.

"It's a challenge. It's not easy," he added. "And we are committed to working together and making sure that rather than this being a source of tension between our two countries, that it can be a source of strength for our working together in a constructive and respectful way."

Sharif said he also discussed the situation in Afghanistan with Obama and reaffirmed Pakistan's commitment to its neighbor's stability.

"As regards Afghanistan, let there be no doubt about our commitment for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan," Sharif said. "This resolve remains unwavering. As in the past, we will continue to engage the United States of America in building a united peaceful and stable Afghanistan."

The two leaders also discussed ways of improving Pakistan's relations with India and developing a constructive approach to the disputed Kashmir region.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and AP

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