U.S. President Barack Obama has met with Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari at the White House. The two leaders discussed the fight against terrorism and efforts toward stability in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
A White House statement says the U.S. and Pakistani presidents specifically focused on the importance of cooperating toward a peaceful and stable outcome in Afghanistan.
Mr. Obama is also said to have underscored the importance of continued U.S. support for Pakistan. And he reaffirmed that he is looking forward to visiting Pakistan this year.
National Security Adviser Tom Donilon told reporters Friday the two presidents also discussed Pakistan’s economic situation and its effects on regional stability.
Mr. Zardari is in Washington on a private visit to attend Friday’s memorial service for Richard Holbrooke, Mr. Obama’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, who died December 13.
The Oval Office meeting came about a month after the Obama administration’s latest assessment of its strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Shortly after that assessment, Mr. Obama emphasized that the United States will continue to support Pakistan. “As part of our Strategic Dialogue with Pakistan, we will work to deepen trust and cooperation. We will speed up our investment in civilian institutions and projects that improve the lives of Pakistanis, and we will intensify our efforts to encourage closer cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he said.
However, the assessment also showed that while Pakistan is making progress in increasing its cooperation in fighting against extremist groups, more progress is needed.
Vice President Joe Biden also stressed that point in his recent meetings with Mr. Zardari and other top Pakistani officials in Islamabad. He returned Friday from a trip to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.
Senior administration officials say Biden and the Pakistani leaders agreed that extremism is a problem for both Pakistan and the U.S.-led coalition forces.
Biden acknowledged Pakistan’s intensified efforts to fight insurgents, and said it is the extremists, not the coalition, who are violating Pakistan’s sovereignty.