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Nawaz Sharif invited by Barack Obama for a visit

23 July, 2015

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been invited by US President Barack Obama for a visit to the United States, a senior Pakistani diplomat said on Wednesday.

The dates for the visit are still being worked out, but the diplomat said the visit was expected to take place towards the end of October.

It will be separate from the New York visit in September for attending the UN General Assembly session. On the margins of the UN General Assembly session, Mr Sharif will also co-chair a summit on peacekeeping with Mr Obama.

The White House invitation has not yet been officially announced. This will be Mr Sharif’s second visit to the White House during his current tenure. He last visited the US in October 2013. The visit helped reset ties that had been weighed down by events of the preceding years.

The invitation for this year, the diplomat said, was meant to expand and deepen the relationship.

Another Pakistani diplomat speaking by phone from Washington said that the other purpose of the White House invitation was to boost Mr Sharif’s government which is seemingly under growing pressure from the military, particularly with respect to its India policy.

Others say developments in the region were also behind the invitation.

Mr Sharif’s foreign policy aides have been particularly upbeat about the invitation and one of them said that it would take the strategic partnership to the next level.

The US government has expressed support for the Sharif government’s policy on reaching out to India. The on-going operations against terrorists and Pakistan’s role in Afghan peace dialogue have also been appreciated.

Before Eid, Mr Sharif had dispatched his Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi to the US to prepare for his upcoming visit.

During his stay in Washington, Mr Fatemi met senior officials of the Obama administration and Congress leaders. He will also be speaking at think-tanks.

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