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Obama to Host Talks with Afghan, Pakistani Presidents

The White House says President Barack Obama will host talks with his counterparts from Afghanistan and Pakistan next week in Washington.

Spokesman Robert Gibbs says Mr. Obama will speak jointly and separately with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari starting Wednesday at the White House.

Meantime, The New York Times reports that the Obama administration is considering reaching out to former Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif. Mr. Sharif heads the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N party, and has ties to Pakistani Islamists.

The newspaper report says U.S. officials hope to use these Islamist ties to address the challenges posed by Taliban insurgents.

Mr. Obama has introduced a revised strategy to stabilize Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. Both governments are fighting Taliban insurgencies in regions of their countries that share a mountainous border.

Insurgents have made a comeback in Afghanistan, causing the highest level of violence since a U.S.-led coalition ousted the Taliban government in 2001.

Pakistan has been hit in recent years by a wave of militant attacks in the tribal areas and also in the capital, Islamabad. The government is under intense pressure from the United States to defeat insurgents who also stage attacks in Afghanistan.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.