Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif leaves here Monday for London on his way to the US for a four-day official visit at the invitation of the US President Barack Obama with whom he will have wide-ranging talks.
After a stopover in London, the prime minister will reach the US on Tuesday.
According to officials he will brief the US leadership on Pakistan’s efforts for the revival of the economy, ongoing fight against terrorism, alleged Indian involvement in abetting terrorism in the country and tensions between the two nuclear-armed South Asian neighbours.
Discussions will cover Pakistan-US cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, education, defence, counter- terrorism, health and climate change, a foreign ministry official said.
The issue of civil nuclear cooperation between the US and Pakistan will figure prominently during the interaction between the leaders.
During the visit, Sharif will also meet with the US Congressional leaders and interact with Pak-US Business Council and US Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Speaking to BBC ahead of the visit, the prime minister’s adviser on foreign affairs and national security Sartaj Aziz said, “Our main priority is to protect national interest and security, and we will not compromise on this.”
The remarks follow international media reports claiming that the US was ready to help Pakistan join the Nuclear Suppliers Group if it accepts certain restrictions on its nuclear programme.
The White House later reportedly said Sharif and Obama were not going to sign a nuclear deal but they will discuss the nuclear issue in their meeting.
Referring to US-India defence dealings, Aziz said Washington should refrain from fanning instability in South Asia.
Sartaj Aziz and Foreign Secretary Aitzaz Chaudhary left for Washington early on Sunday in order to hold preparatory meetings with senior US officials.
PM’s Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi expressed the hope the visit will further strengthen bilateral ties.
In an interview he told the state-run radio that trade, economy, investment and energy would be among the main topics on the agenda.
Fatemi said Pakistan will also seek access to the US markets and urge the American firms to invest in the country.
The special assistant said immediate withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan would have negative impact until the Afghan forces are trained enough to handle the situation independently.
Local media reports said Director-General (DG) of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar, during his visit to Washington ahead of Sharif’s arrival there, has held meetings with top US intelligence officials on strategic issues and counter-terrorism.
Upon his return here Sunday evening, the ISI chief was due to present a report to the prime minister on his discussions with US officials.