ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Monday expressed deep concern over the continuing drone strikes by the United States in the country. Talking to US Secretary Defence Chuck Hagel who called on him here, the Prime Minister stressed that drone strikes were counter-productive to the government’s efforts to combat terrorism and extremism on an enduring basis.
The US Defence Secretary held in-depth exchange on the whole range of issues of mutual interest between the two countries. “The two leaders agreed to work together to strengthen Pakistan-US relations and advance the shared interest of a stable, secure and prosperous Pakistan and the region,” a Foreign Office press release said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stressed the importance Pakistan attached to a peaceful, stable and united Afghanistan and reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for the Afghan peace and reconciliation process.
Secretary Hagel acknowledged Pakistan’s efforts to support an inclusive reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of Pakistan-US strategic partnership for peace and stability in the region.
They noted the substantial progress made in the bilateral relationship in recent months and acknowledged that the recent high-level exchanges including the Prime Minister’s visit to Washington, meetings of the Working Groups on energy, defence and security, non-proliferation and disarmament had greatly helped in building trust and strengthening the relationship.
The two leaders also reviewed the current state of bilateral defence and security cooperation and explored ways of further expanding cooperation in this important area of the relationship.
The Prime Minister stressed the importance of establishing a long-term and broad-based defence cooperation with the United States on the basis of mutual interest.
The two leaders also discussed the situation in Afghanistan.
Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Minister for Defence, Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Syed Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Jalil Abbas Jilani, Foreign Secretary and Lt. Gen. Asif Yasin Malik, Secretary Defence also attended the meeting.