Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Kerry lauds Pakistan as key partner

US Secretary of State John Kerry meets Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif at the State Department in Washington (AP)

The US relationship with Pakistan "could not be more important" as the Islamic republic grapples with economic and security woes and regional stability, John Kerry has said.

The Secretary of State spoke as he sat down with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is in Washington this week for talks with the White House.

Mr Kerry declined to answer questions after brief remarks to reporters at the State Department.

But US officials say the Obama administration is posed to release more than 1.6 billion US dollars (£1 billion) in military and economic aid to help bolster ties with Islamabad that have deteriorated over deadly American airstrikes and the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

"We have a lot to talk about, and the relationship with Pakistan could not be more important," Mr Kerry said as his meeting with Mr Sharif began.

"On its own, (Pakistan is) a democracy that is working hard to gets its economy moving and deal with insurgency, and also important to the regional stability."

Mr Sharif did not speak during the brief session with reporters.

The two men met over dinner, shortly before Mr Kerry planned to head to Europe for peace talks for Syria and between Israel and Palestinian authorities.

He will meet foreign ministers in Paris, London and Rome before returning to Washington on Thursday.

AP

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