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U.S., Pakistan call for Taliban to return to talks

President Barack Obama listens to Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during their meeting in the Oval Office. (AP)

U.S. President Barack Obama and Pakistan’s prime minister issued a joint call for the Taliban to return to peace talks with the Afghan government, as the pair stressed the positives of a troubled alliance Thursday.

Amid smiles and handshakes, Obama welcomed Nawaz Sharif to the White House and hailed a “long-standing relationship” between the United States and Pakistan.

The leaders later “called on Taliban leaders to enter into direct talks with Kabul and work toward a sustainable peace settlement,” according to a joint statement.

The U.S. sees Pakistan as one of the few states with influence over the extremists. The new Taliban leader Akhtar Mansour is believed to have close ties to Islamabad.

But some in Washington believe Pakistan has not done enough to bring its influence to bear and to persuade the group to renounce violence.

In their talks, Obama stressed to Sharif that Pakistan needed to take action against groups that undermine peaceful dialogue and want to ignite the region.

“The bottom line is that there are a lot of deep disagreements between these two countries,” said Michael Kugelman of the Woodrow Wilson Center.

“The US has simply lost patience after so many years of providing arms and money to the Pakistani military, the Pakistanis have simply not done what the US has repeatedly asked them to do in terms of cracking down on militants.”

Since Sharif returned to the prime minister’s office two years ago, both sides have made an effort to find areas of cooperation.
 

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Last Update: Friday, 23 October 2015 KSA 08:00 - GMT 05:00
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