Pakistan PM Sharif urges Obama to end drone strikes

WASHINGTON Thu Oct 24, 2013 4:18am IST

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) hosts a meeting with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, October 23, 2013. REUTERS/Larry Downing

U.S. President Barack Obama (R) hosts a meeting with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, October 23, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday urged U.S. President Barack Obama to end drone strikes in Pakistan, touching on a sore subject just as relations between the two countries improve after years of suspicion over Afghanistan and the U.S. counterterrorism fight.

"I ... brought up the issue of drones in our meeting, emphasizing the need for an end to such strikes," Sharif told reporters after meeting with Obama in the Oval Office.

Relations were badly strained following the 2011 Navy SEAL raid that killed al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden deep inside Pakistan where he was in hiding. But they appear to be on the mend as the United States prepares to pull forces out of Afghanistan in 2014.

The United States has quietly restarted security assistance to Pakistan after freezing aid during the period of soured relations, when Washington frequently voiced complaints about the ties of the Pakistani intelligence service to militant groups active in Afghanistan.

A series of major setbacks in recent years included a 2011 NATO air strike that mistakenly killed Pakistani border guards and another incident that year in which a CIA contractor killed two men on the streets of Lahore.

Obama acknowledged tensions and "misunderstandings" between the two countries. He said he and Sharif had pledged to work together on security issues in ways that "respect Pakistan's sovereignty."

"We committed to working together and making sure that rather than this being a source of tension between our two countries, this can be a source of strength for us working together," Obama said.

Sharif was elected prime minister in June in a historic election that marked Pakistan's first civilian transfer of power after the completion of a full term by a democratically elected government. He is the first Pakistani leader to visit the White House in five years.

"To see a peaceful transition of one democratically elected government to another was an enormous milestone for Pakistan," Obama said.

Much of U.S. security aid to Pakistan is intended to bolster the ability of its military to counter militants in semi-autonomous tribal areas.

For fiscal year 2014, which began on October 1, Obama has requested $1.162 billion from Congress for Pakistan, including $857 million in civilian aid and $305 million in security assistance.

The U.S. use of armed drones to attack suspected militants in Pakistan has long been controversial although the number of incidents has dropped in recent months.

The issue came up again this week when Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch accused the United States of breaking international law by killing civilians in missile and drone strikes intended for militants in Pakistan and Yemen.

White House spokesman Jay Carney called it "a hard fact of war" that U.S. strikes sometimes result in civilian casualties but said drone strikes do so far less than conventional attacks. The United States takes pains to make sure any such strikes conform to domestic and international law, he said.

(Reporting by Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Jim Loney)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Back to Investors

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Health Reforms

Health Reforms

India reviews state hospitals to end widespread corruption.  Full Article 

New Rules

New Rules

RBI says all companies must apply 2-step payments for credit cards.  Full Article 

Still Popular

Still Popular

Indians keep faith with Modi, best hope for economy - poll.  Full Article 

New Adviser

New Adviser

Arvind Subramanian likely to be chief econ adviser.  Full Article 

Pricing Mechanism

Pricing Mechanism

Govt sets up a four-member panel to re-examine gas pricing.  Full Article 

Royalty Rates

Royalty Rates

India to hike iron ore royalty, miners may struggle to pass on extra cost.  Full Article 

Diesel Deregulation

Diesel Deregulation

Oil ministry to seek Cabinet nod on diesel deregulation - sources  Full Article 

Commodities

Commodities

Gold near two-month low; set for weekly drop on interest rate fears  Full Article 

Helping Regional Mills

Helping Regional Mills

Govt raises sugar import duty to 25 pct from 15 pct.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage