WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama and Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday vowed to work together for establishing a lasting peace in Afghanistan.
Obama and Sharif were speaking after a 90-minute long one-on-one meeting at the White House’s Oval Office.
“The Prime Minister and I both agreed that it is in America and Pakistan's interests for Afghanistan to be stable and secure, its sovereignty respected,” Obama told reporters after the meeting.
Referring to a recent meeting between President Hamid Karzai and Sharif, Obama appreciated many gestures Sharif had made to Afghanistan. “And I'm confident that, working together, we can achieve a goal that is good for Afghanistan but also helps to protect Pakistan over the long term,” the president said.
Observing that Pakistan is deeply interested in how Afghanistan transitions as the United States and other coalition forces end their combat role next year, Obama assured Sharif to fully brief him and his government as they make progress in not only Afghan elections, but also a long-term strategy for stability in the region.
“As regards Afghanistan, let there be no doubt about our commitment for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. This result remains unbending. As in the past, we will continue to engage the United States of America in building a united, peaceful and stable Afghanistan,” Sharif said in his remarks reading from a prepared statement.
In a joint statement later, Obama and Sharif reaffirmed that a peaceful, stable, independent, and united Afghanistan is in the interest of the region. They welcomed the ongoing security transition in Afghanistan and Afghan-led preparations for next April's presidential elections.
Obama and Sharif recognized the important role of countries in the region in supporting Afghanistan’s progress toward stability and prosperity and stressed that continued engagement by the international community in Afghanistan’s economic and social development and reconstruction would be essential in ensuring the long-term security and prosperity of the Afghan people.
“Prime Minister Sharif also underlined that the support of the international community in the repatriation of Afghan refugees from Pakistan and their reintegration in Afghanistan was of critical importance to Pakistan. The two Leaders emphasized their support for a policy of non-interference in Afghanistan,” the joint statement said.
Obama and Sharif affirmed their commitment to the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process as the surest way to end violence and bring lasting stability to Afghanistan and the region.
Acknowledging Pakistan’s efforts to support an inclusive reconciliation process in which Afghans determine the future of their country, both leaders called on the Taliban to join the political process and enter dialogue with the Afghan government, the joint statement said.
The two leaders also welcomed progress on the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project, and tasked the Energy Working Group to explore possible further US support for the Central Asia-South Asia electricity line, CASA-1000, in close collaboration with the World Bank.
Sharif said he had urged Obama to help end drone strikes in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas.
“I also brought up the issue of drones in our meeting, emphasizing the need to end ... such strikes,” said the prime minister. For his part, Obama made no mention of drones and remained silent over the issue.
Obama, however, said he wanted to prevent security cooperation from being a source of tension between the US and Pakistan. (Pajhwok)