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POLITICS: PennAve

Obama to host Pakistan's prime minister at White House

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,Pakistan,PennAve,Susan Crabtree

The White House on Thursday announced a meeting next month with the leader of Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

President Obama will welcome Sharif to the White House on Oct. 23. The visit will focus on issues including “energy, trade and economic development, regional stability, and countering violent extremism,” the White House said in a brief statement.

The meeting will also allow Obama and Sharif to address a host of grievances between the two nations, including lingering acrimony over U.S. drone strikes on Pakistani soil, the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and Islamabad's history of supporting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan.

Despite ongoing differences, the United States is Pakistan's biggest source of foreign aid, and the two countries in early August pledged to repair their contentious relationship after Sharif’s election.

The announcement came a day before Obama also sits down with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for formal talks Friday.

India and Pakistan, nuclear-armed neighbors, have been involved in a violent decades-long dispute over control of the Himalayan territory of Kashmir, an area bordering India, Pakistan and China.

Relations between the two countries remain strained after incidents where troops on both sides fired across the border.

Singh and Sharif are scheduled to meet in New York on Sunday to discuss the possibility of peaceful negotiations to end the conflict.

Early Thursday, extremists attempted to derail any steps toward rapprochement with an attack on the Indian side of disputed Kashmir, which reportedly killed 12 people.

Sharif has also been trying to broker a peace deal with the Pakistani Taliban since he was elected in June.

India, a major U.S. ally that has spent $2 billion in aid to Afghanistan, fears a Taliban resurgence in that country once the U.S.-led NATO coalition pulls all troops out.

Along with discussions about the U.S. drawdown from Afghanistan next year, Singh's meeting with Obama is expected to focus on a civilian nuclear deal between the two countries, ways of boosting defense and trade ties, and India's concerns over proposed changes in U.S. immigration laws.

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