Pakistan PM Sharif urges Obama to end drones strikes

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23 October 2013 Last updated at 18:24 ET

Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif and US President Barack Obama have discussed the US drone strikes in Pakistan, with Mr Sharif saying they must end.

The two leaders held wide-ranging talks at the White House on Wednesday, pledging to strengthen the often-strained ties between the nations.

Mr Sharif said Pakistan would continue to operate with “maximum restraint” as a nuclear state.

Mr Obama said the two nations remained important strategic partners.

'A challenge'

Relations between Islamabad and Washington nosedived more than two years ago, when US special forces killed al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in a raid on his hideout in Abbottabad in north-eastern Pakistan without the Pakistani government receiving prior warning.

Relations were further tested by the killing of 24 Pakistani troops in a US air strike along the Afghan border later in 2011.

On Wednesday following the Oval Office meeting, Mr Obama acknowledged that tensions and misunderstandings would persist between the two nations.

"It’s a challenge. It’s not easy," he said.

"We committed to working together and making sure that rather than this being a source of tension between our two countries, it can be a source of strength."

And he pledged co-operation in “ways that respect Pakistan’s sovereignty, that respect the concerns of both countries”.

Mr Sharif said the two had agreed to strengthen co-operation on counterterrorism.

"I also brought up the issue of drones in our meeting, emphasising the need for an end to such strikes," he said.

He stated his top priorities were the economy, energy, education and combating extremist activity.

"We both agreed that progress in these core areas is indispensable for creating new opportunities and building a hopeful future for our next generation," Mr Sharif said.

'Positive momentum'

He said Pakistan hoped to join multilateral export regimes in order to promote long-term economic growth.

Mr Obama said both leaders had agreed on the importance of leaving Pakistan’s neighbour Afghanistan “stable and secure” as US and coalition forces prepare to withdraw next year.

The White House said a stable and peaceful Pakistan-Afghanistan border was critical to a successful counterterrorism and counterinsurgency effort.

Both leaders “expressed satisfaction with the positive momentum achieved in defence relations”, the White House said in a statement.

They also pledged to abide by the commitments of the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, Korea, emphasising that nuclear terrorism was “one of the most challenging threats to international security,” the White House said.