Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met US President Barack Obama and held wide-ranging talks with him.
The US “categorically ruled out” any kind of negotiations with Pakistan on India-type civil nuclear deal, terming the reports in American media “completely false”. Earlier in the day there were reports in US media of that the US was considering a civil nuclear deal with Pakistan.
“Let me state categorically, we have not entered into negotiations on 123 Agreement with Pakistan nor are we seeking an exception for Pakistan within the nuclear supplier group in order to facilitate civil nuclear exports,” a senior US Administration official said after President Obama met PM Sharif.
Welcoming Sharif for his second bilateral meeting with him, US President Obama said the two sides are “looking forward to using this opportunity to deepen this relationship between the United States and Pakistan”.
“Obviously, the United States and Pakistan have a longstanding relationship. We work and cooperate on a whole host of issues – not just on security matters, but also on economic and scientific and educational affairs,” Obama told reporters as he welcomed Sharif in his Oval Office.
“The Pakistan-America relations stand over 70 years, and it is my endeavour to further strengthen and solidify this relationship,” said Sharif.
Meanwhile, in a blunt message, the US has asked Pakistan to intensify efforts to counter terrorism and to take action against all militant groups without discriminating.
“We welcome Pakistan’s commitment as part of the national action plan not to discriminate amongst terrorist groups. We have been very clear with the Pakistani government that in implementing that commitment, Pakistan must take action against all militant groups without discriminating,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz told the press after the two leaders wrapped by their 90-minute meeting.
In the joint statement issued by the two leaders after their talks, Sharif apprised Obama about Pakistan’s resolve to take “effective action” against United Nations-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and its affiliates, as per its international commitments and obligations under UN Security Council resolutions.
The statement gave considerable space to the issue of terrorism and that it was for the first time that LeT and Haqqani network are specifically mentioned in it.
However, US also lauded Pakistan’s on-going efforts to degrade terrorism activities and to restore government control in parts that have been safe havens for terrorists.
“Pakistan’s continuing significant military operations have had significant impact. They’ve targeted terrorist sanctuaries and have restored government control to parts of Pakistan that have previously been safe havens for terrorists,” Schultz said when asked to respond to accusations that Pakistan continued to shelter Taliban leaders.
Schultz also affirmed that US-Pak relationship has made progress after President Obama met Sharif at the White House two years ago.
“That was just after Prime Minister Sharif took office. And at the time, the two of them committed to getting the US-Pakistan relationship on more solid footing,” he said.
“I think we now know today that has happened; that the relationship has progressed since the last time the Prime Minister was here two years ago. And we see this visit today as an opportunity to further advance a more sustainable, broad-based partnership,” Schultz added.
The White House Press Deputy Secretary also affirmed of mutual relationship and business partnership between the two countries and said, “We see opportunity in areas of mutual interest like economic growth, trade, investment, clean energy, global health, climate change and nuclear security”.
(With inputs from PTI)