President Obama met with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday in the hopes of strengthening the countries' precarious relationship. The New York Times reported that Obama and Sharif had a two-hour meeting in the Oval Office where they discussed the future of Afghanistan, the security of Islamabad's nuclear arsenal, and U.S. drone strikes.
It was the first face-to-face meeting between Obama and Sharif. Sharif became Prime Minister of Pakistan in June and while his government is expected to be less pro-American than its predecessor, the Pakistani government needs help from America to strengthen its economy and infrastructure. Sharif is also concerned that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in 2014 could destabilize the Afghani government, resulting in refugees flooding into Pakistan.
Sharif told reporters that during his meeting with Obama, he asked the President to end drone strikes in Pakistan. U.S. officials have said that they are reducing drone strikes, but not eliminating the use of armed drones. Obama told reporters that he is committed to fostering a strong relationship with Pakistan.
We believe that if Pakistan is secure, peaceful and prosperous, that is not only good for Pakistan, it is good for the region. It is good for the world."
Relations between the United States and Pakistan have been strained since 2011, after U.S. military forces raided a compound in Pakistan and killed Osama bin Laden, and after the killing of two Pakistanis by a government contractor working for the United States. Obama has acknowledged that this tension is likely to continue, remarking that maintaining a civil relationship is challenging. The U.S. government is freeing up more than $1.6 billion in aid to Pakistan in an attempt to show its willingness to work cooperatively with the Pakistani government.