On the eve of talks between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and US President Barack Obama, the White House described the US-Pakistan relationship as “enormously valuable”, saying despite some differences Washington wants the ties to proceed on positive trajectory.
“The president looks forward to welcoming Prime Minister Sharif to the White House on Wednesday. The prime minister’s official visit comes as we are strengthening US-Pakistan relations,” Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney said.
The White House press secretary said ahead of the leaders’ summit, Nawaz was meeting the senior Obama administration officials at the State Department, the Department of Defence, Department of Energy, Department of Treasury, and the US Trade Representative.
“These meetings provide an opportunity to discuss concrete cooperation on issues of mutual concern such as energy, trade, and economic development, regional stability, and, of course, countering violent extremism,” Carney added, as Nawaz held a series of discussions on wide-ranging cooperative ties with American officials during his four-day official visit.
“We want to advance our shared interest of a stable, secure, and prosperous Pakistan that is contributing to regional and international security and prosperity.”
“We want to find ways for our countries to cooperate, even as we have differences on some issues, and we want to make sure that the trajectory of this relationship is a positive one,” the press secretary said.
Continuing his emphasis on the importance of the relationship, Carney said, “It’s obviously a very important relationship – the United States and Pakistan. It’s one that’s obviously got a lot of complexity to it, but it’s enormously valuable when it comes to US national security and to the safety and security of the American people.”
The prime minister’s ongoing visit to Washington coincides with the US announcement that it would resume stalled security assistance to Pakistan as part of efforts to strengthen the country’s counterterrorism drive.
The bilateral relationship has recovered from a low point in 2011 amid new optimism and hope, but analysts say the two countries still have to grapple with some contentious issues like the drone attacks.
Meanwhile, a State Department spokesperson confirmed that the US was moving forward with over one billion dollars economic and military aid to Pakistan that was held up because of strained relations in 2011 and 2012.
To questions, spokesperson Marie Harf said the $1.6 billion assistance was separate from the 2014 Fiscal Year money that the administration had asked for.
“Implementation of this ($1.6 billion) assistance was slowed during 2011-2012 when we had some bilateral challenges,” she said. “I would note during that time period civilian assistance did continue moving forward.”
Asked about figures for economic and military components of the US aid, Harf said, “Over the course of the summer, we notified Congress that we would be restarting the security assistance part. Again, the civilian assistance part had been moving forward. I don’t have an exact breakdown of what the 1.6 billion is between security and military. I think it’s close to being 50/50, but let me double-check on that. I don’t have those numbers in front of me,” she said.