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Sharif urged Obama to end drone strikes in Pakistan, he says

The meeting between the US president and Pakistan's prime minister seemed to focus on 'friendship and close cooperation' rather than contentious topics such as drone strikes.

Obama sharif us pakistan relations drone strikesEnlarge
US President Barack Obama and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (L) hold a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, October 23, 2013. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Don't expect much in the way of breakthroughs.

That was the message in the media, leading up to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's meeting with US President Barack Obama on Wednesday.

After the meeting, Sharif told reporters he had urged the US president to end drone strikes that target alleged militants with ties to Al Qaeda and the Taliban on Pakistani soil.

"I also brought up the issue of drones in our meeting, emphasizing the need to end ... such strikes," Sharif said, according to Reuters.

Obama made no mention of drones while talking to reporters. He did, however, mention the toll extremism has taken in Pakistan, where more than 40,000 have died over the last ten years.

"I know the Prime Minister is very much committed to try to reduce this incidence of terrorism inside Pakistan," Obama said.

He also sought to reassure Sharif that a solution "that is good for Afghanistan, but also helps to protect Pakistan over the long term" would be found as the date for US troops to withdraw from Afghanistan approaches.

Pakistan's intelligence services have long been suspected of supporting the Taliban.

A joint statement released by the White House said the leaders affirmed "friendship and close cooperation" and a partnership based on the "principles of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity."

That the two men were even meeting should be viewed as a sign of progress, the Associated Press said.

Sharif, who has been in Washington since the weekend, told a crowd at the US Institute of Peace Tuesday, "I have come here as the elected leader of Pakistan, a land of ancient civilizations and cultural traditions, but a state still young and aspiring to be a modern, moderate and progressive country."

Relations between the United States and Pakistan have been thawing in recent months, after years of deterioration. They reached a low point in 2011, when Pakistan accused the US of violating its sovereignty to carry out the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

More from GlobalPost: Will drone strikes turn the US into a pariah?

During his speech Tuesday, Sharif said drone strikes on Pakistani soil were a "major irritant" in US-Pakistani relations and urged an end to them.

Just a day earlier, the rights group Amnesty International released a report on drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas, saying, "these and other strikes have resulted in unlawful killings that may constitute extrajudicial executions or war crimes."

Before his meeting with Obama, Sharif met with Vice President Joe Biden, and they agreed that Pakistan and the United States must cooperate on combating terrorism and extremism. They also talked about the economic and developmental challenges Pakistan faces, according to the White House.

The US announced Tuesday that it would release $1.6 billion in aid to Pakistan, in another sign of thawing relations.

More from GlobalPost: Pakistan's leader, Nawaz Sharif, urges end to drones on US visit
 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/pakistan/131023/obama-sharif-us-pakistan-relations-drone-strikes