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Pakistani PM Meets Obama As Ties Show Signs of Improvement

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is meeting at the White House Wednesday with U.S. President Barack Obama, seeking to turn a page in the often rocky relationship between Washington and Islamabad.

As a sign of improvement in U.S.-Pakistan ties, the Obama administration has moved to release more than $300 million in blocked security assistance to Pakistan.

Relations hit bottom after the 2011 U.S. Special Forces strike deep inside Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden, and a U.S. airstrike last year that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers along the Afghan border.

"It is my endeavor to approach this relationship leaving behind the baggage of trust deficit," Mr. Sharif said Tuesday at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama hoped to use the meeting with Sharif to promote "a stable, secure and prosperous Pakistan that is contributing to regional and international security and prosperity."

But the meeting, the first between the two leaders, will raise some critical issues including American drone strikes in Pakistan and Pakistan's alleged support for the Taliban.

Pakistan needs Washington's support for its economic and energy needs while the U.S. looks to Pakistan to play a constructive role in bringing peace to Afghanistan because of its historical ties with the Taliban.

Ahead of its combat troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014, the U.S. is seeking to push through a peace deal with the Taliban and Afghan government. Washington expects Pakistan to play a helpful role in this process because of its historical ties with the Taliban, while Pakistan needs U.S. support for its economic and energy needs.

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