Amid reports that U.S. President Barack Obama has invited Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for a meeting at the White House in October, a top American official has said this was “news” to him.
The White House clarification over the Obama-Sharif meeting came amid media reports in Pakistan that the U.S. is not happy with Islamabad’s continued reluctance in taking action against the dreaded Haqqani network responsible for major attacks on American installations in Afghanistan.
Media reports in Pakistan earlier had also said that Mr. Obama has invited Mr. Sharif for a meeting at the White House in October.
“This is news to me,” Peter R. Lavoy, Special Assistant to U.S. President and Senior Director for South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council of the White House, told PTI when his attention was drawn to reports in this regard.
“We have not made any announcement about Nawaz Sharif coming to Washington. Although I have seen press reports about that,” he said.
“We have not made any statements about that,” Mr. Lavoy reiterated when asked for a second time if Mr. Obama has invited Sharif for a meeting at the White House in October.
“If it is pakka (final) you would be the first to hear,” he said.
Mr. Lavoy, who has just returned from a trip to Pakistan, described the U.S.-Pakistan ties as “very” strong and stable.
“If you look at 9/11, when United States was attacked by al-Qaeda, today we no longer are facing those kinds of terrorist threats in our homeland and our interests overseas.
And Pakistan’s counter terrorism cooperation, which continues today has been and continues to be a vital reason for our safety and security not only in the United States but also in the region,” he said.
However, Mr. Lavoy said the United States is aware of concerns of both India and Afghanistan on cross border terrorism and safe havens.
“This is something, we continue to have very frank discussions with Pakistan about areas of improvement, areas of increased cooperation with us and for Pakistan to cooperate with its regional leaders to deal with security threats and other opportunities,” he said.
Meanwhile, a report in Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper said that in a move that has blocked the disbursement of the next tranche of Coalition Support Fund (CSF), the US has told Pakistan that it would not be certifying to the Congress that its counter-terrorism operation in North Waziristan damaged the Haqqani network.