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Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif leaves for US visit

Washington, Oct 20 (): Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif left Pakistan today for a 4-day visit to the US during which he is expected to discuss about the key bilateral issues, the draw down in Afghanistan and Indo-Pak ties with President Barack Obama.

This trip is a challenging trip for the Prime Minister as it is the first in five years by a Pakistani premier. Sharif will first travel to London and then proceed to Washington. This will be his first bilateral official visit to the US in his current term as premier.

Sharif was elected in May, and Washington has praised his efforts to reduce tensions in South Asia.

Nawaz Sharif will be meeting Obama on Wednesday, just less than a month after the US president met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on September 27. Sharif is expected to discuss the state of the India-Pak ties among other things, said the officials familiar with the preparations.

A source said, Obama, would be keen in knowing the plan of Sharif for the region – Afghanistan, India, cross-border terrorism, promoting regional trade and energy linkages. Sharif would at the same time explain the basis behind following dialogue with Taliban militants in the country. The Pakistani prime minister is also expected to underline the implications of the 2014 Afghan transition on Pakistan.

Officials said Obama would like to hear from Sharif in person his action plan to improve the relationship with India, adding it is not clear what issues Sharif plans to raise about India in his talks with Obama and other US officials.

The White House said Sharif’s visit “will highlight the importance and resilience of the US-Pakistan relationship and provide an opportunity for us to strengthen cooperation on issues of mutual concern”. During the visit, Sharif will also meet US Vice President Joe Biden.