Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is scheduled to meet with U.S. President Obama in Washington next month for talks that will address efforts to prevent militant extremism, according to a Thursday White House announcement.
The Oct. 23 meeting will "highlight the importance and resilience of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship" and give the two sides a chance to discuss multiple areas for enhancing relations including trade, energy and fostering regional stability, Obama press secretary Jay Carney said.
The talks at the White House will constitute the first formal meeting between the two world leaders since Sharif was elected in May.
Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported the U.S. intelligence community had ratcheted up efforts to monitor Pakistan's nuclear weapons complex out of concern that local extremist actors could infiltrate or attack atomic facilities in order to acquire materials for a nuclear bomb. Islamabad responded to the media report by reiterating past claims that its nuclear arsenal is kept fully secure.
Given the priority Obama places on improving global-nuclear security, he and Sharif could talk about Pakistan's atomic protections.
Sharif met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly meeting, according to a Pakistani Foreign Ministry press release.
"The two sides reviewed the state of bilateral relationship and agreed to intensify the engagements in the coming weeks and months to further expand and deepen bilateral cooperation in all areas," the release states.
Sharif told Kerry that dealing with Pakistan's energy crisis was a major priority of his administration. In years past, Islamabad has petitioned Washington to grant it an atomic-energy trade deal, similar to the one signed with longtime rival India in 2008. The Obama administration thus far has refused these repeated entreaties.
The Pakistani leader is slated to address the U.N. General Assembly on Friday and could meet briefly with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the gathering, according to the Pakistani Nation newspaper. Sharif addressed a high-level U.N. meeting on Wednesday, when he talked about reducing poverty.
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.