Obama, Prime Minister discuss regional situation

US President Barack Obama on Friday called Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on telephone and informed him of his forthcoming visit to India. During their exchanges marked by cordiality, Pakistan-US bilateral relations and the evolving situation in the region, were discussed. During their conversation, the Prime Minister recalled his warm and friendly meeting with the US President in Washington in October last year and their subsequent interaction at the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague in March this year.

The Prime Minister expressed satisfaction at the direction of Pakistan-US relations which are on an upward trajectory, since his government came to power last year. President Obama noted that Pakistan-US relations are strong and robust. According to him, the Government has determined the right economic priorities and was successfully overcoming the challenges. Recalling his invitation extended in Washington, the Prime Minister conveyed the expectations of the people of Pakistan to welcome President Obama to Pakistan sometime in the future. President Obama also assured the Prime Minister that he would undertake a visit to Pakistan at an early date, as soon as the situation normalises in the country. Discussing the regional situation, the Prime Minister referred to the improvement of Pakistan-Afghanistan relations, as manifested in President Ashraf Ghani’s recent visit to Islamabad.

The US President appreciated the Prime Minister’s efforts in this regard and called it pivotal for the peace and stability in the region. The Prime Minister referred to his visit to India earlier this year, which was aimed at taking Pakistan-India relations forward. Subsequent unfortunate steps on India’s part, including cancellation of Foreign Secretary level talks and unprovoked firing across the LoC/Working Boundary resulting in civilian casualties, indicated that India is averse to normalisation of relations with Pakistan.

Thus, while Pakistan remains open to the resumption of bilateral dialogue, the onus is on India to create a conducive environment in this regard, according to the Prime Minister. President Obama expressed his understanding for Pakistan’s position. The Prime Minister also urged President Obama to take up the cause of Kashmir with the Indian leadership. The two leaders agreed to stay engaged to further strengthen Pakistan-US relations in their common desire to promote peace and prosperity in South Asia.