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Obama Calls for Closer Ties with Pakistan

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (l) and President Barack Obama at the White House, Oct 22, 2015 (VOA photo - Aru Pande).

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (l) and President Barack Obama at the White House, Oct 22, 2015 (VOA photo - Aru Pande).

President Barack Obama says he wants to “deepen” United States ties with Pakistan.

He discussed the relationship during a White House meeting with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday. The two leaders spoke of an enduring U.S.-Pakistan partnership. Relations between the two countries have slowly improved since 2011. That year, U.S. troops killed terrorist Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Pakistani officials were angry that the Americans did not inform them before the raid.

Mr. Obama asked Prime Minister Sharif to encourage peace talks between the Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist group, and the Afghanistan government.

In a joint statement, the two leaders agreed to advance peace talks between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban. They called on “Taliban leaders to enter into direct talks” with the Afghan government.

Mr. Sharif said he is working to prevent the Taliban from crossing Pakistan’s border into Afghanistan. The president praised Pakistan for its “ongoing support to degrade and ultimately defeat al-Qaida and its affiliates.” Al-Qaida is also an Islamic fundamentalist group in the Middle East.

The two leaders also agreed to reduce the threat of “nuclear terrorism.” Pakistan has nuclear arms. United States officials want those weapons safeguarded from militants like the Taliban and al-Qaida.

The joint statement expressed support for a global agreement on climate change. It said Pakistan is “particularly vulnerable” to the affect of climate change. Pakistan has suffered major floods, heat waves, and droughts in recent years.

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama also met with Mr. Sharif’s wife, Kalsoom Nawaz Sharif, and daughter, Maryam Nawaz Sharif. Mrs. Obama announced that the United States will spend $70 million to educate adolescent girls in Pakistan. The aid is expected to help 200,000 girls in Pakistan.

“With this funding, we’re going to be building more than a dozen new schools and rehabilitating hundreds of others,” Mrs. Obama said. “We’re going to be setting up health screenings for thousands of girls to ensure they’re getting the medical care they need.”

The first lady's office says the Pakistani government has agreed to double spending for education by 2018. Since 2002, the United States provided $30 billion in aid, according to Foreign Affairs.

Bruce Alpert adapted this story for Learning English from Hai Do was the editor.


Words in This Story

safeguard – v. to make something safe or secure

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