The much-speculated nuclear deal between the US and Pakistan did not quite take off during US President Barack Obama’s talks with visiting Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, with the US putting the focus on Pakistan’s promises to curb terror and prodding the latter to use its leverage to facilitate dialogue in Afghanistan.
The disputed Kashmir region also found a mention in a joint statement issued by the two countries, with Washington advocating bilateral dialogue between India and Pakistan to resolve the decades-old contentious sovereignty issue.
Mr Sharif, who is on a bilateral visit to the US, met President Obama on October 22 in Washington and discussed a wide spectrum of bilateral issues. The relations between the US and Pakistan had been frosty over the years due to Washington’s growing closeness to New Delhi and Pakistan strengthening its relations with its all-weather ally China.
“The leaders emphasised the importance of a sustained and resilient dialogue process between the two neighbors aimed at resolving all outstanding territorial and other disputes, including Kashmir, through peaceful means and working together to address mutual concerns of India and Pakistan regarding terrorism,” said the joint statement issued by the two countries. In his meeting with Mr Obama, Mr Sharif reiterated Pakistan’s efforts to take effective action against United Nations-designated terrorist individuals and entities, including Lashkar-e-Tayyiba and its affiliates, as per its international commitments and obligations under the UN Security Council resolutions and the Financial Action Task Force.
The two leaders also discussed the need for further multilateral engagement, and discussion of cyber issues as part of the US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue. Pakistan’s efforts to improve its strategic trade controls and enhance its engagement with multilateral export control regimes was taken note of by both the sides. However, much to the disappointment of Islamabad there was no nuclear deal or any concrete move in that direction.
The US is not negotiating a civilian nuclear deal with Pakistan, a senior American official was quoted by sections of the media as saying.
The Afghan Muddle
Afghanistan was also discussed between the two leaders, with the two sides emphasising that a stable and peaceful Pakistan-Afghanistan border was important for the success of counterterrorism, counterinsurgency, and counter-IED efforts. Both Mr Sharif and Mr Obama expressed their commitment to advance an Afghan-owned and led peace and reconciliation process between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban, and called on Taliban leaders to enter into direct talks with Kabul and work toward a sustainable peace settlement.
The US and Pakistan also decided to explore new avenues of enhancing defence collaboration. The two leaders expressed satisfaction that the US and Pakistan are working closely to counter emerging terrorist groups such as the Islamic State in South Asia and emphasised on their commitment to combat extremism.
Some of the other major issues discussed between the two leaders included climate change, energy, education and the promotion of global health. Speaking about trade and investment the two leaders acknowledged the importance of the US-Pakistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) process with Mr Sharif reiterating the importance of market access for Pakistan as the most effective, mutually beneficial, and durable form of bilateral economic partnership.
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