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Pakistan's Sharif and Obama Talk of Improved Ties

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has asked U.S. President Barack Obama to end drone strikes on his country, strikes that are widely unpopular in Pakistan.

Following talks Wednesday at the White House, Mr. Sharif said he emphasized "the need for an end to such strikes." Mr. Obama did not mention drones in his remarks to reporters.

Mr. Obama cited Pakistan's battle with terrorism, saying more than 40,000 Pakistanis have died in extremist attacks during the past decade. He said he knows Mr. Sharif is very much committed to try to reduce terrorism in Pakistan and prevent it from being exported.

A joint statement from the two leaders said their partnership is "based on the principles of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Mr. Obama also said he tried to reassure Mr. Sharif about the status of Afghanistan, where U.S. combat forces plan to withdraw next year. He said he is "confident" of a solution "that is good for Afghanistan, but also helps to protect Pakistan over the long term."



Pakistan was the main supporter of the former Taliban regime, and Afghan officials have long voiced suspicions about the connections between the hardline movement and Islamabad's powerful intelligence services.

Mr. Sharif says he and President Obama discussed Pakistan building a constructive relationship with India, including on the issue of Kashmir.

U.S.-Pakistani 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.

President Obama also reaffirmed U.S. support in key areas such as economic growth, agriculture, health and education. He said the United States remains Pakistan's largest export market and one of its largest sources of foreign direct investment.

Mr. Sharif welcomed U.S. support for private sector-led growth and job creation, including through the Pakistan Private Investment Initiative that would make a matching investment of $100 million in the development and expansion of small- and medium-size businesses in Pakistan.

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