Pakistan PM Sharif urges Obama to end drone strikes

US President Barack Obama (R) speaks as he hosts a meeting with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on Oct 23, 2013. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called Wednesday on US President Barack
US President Barack Obama (R) speaks as he hosts a meeting with Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington on Oct 23, 2013. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called Wednesday on US President Barack Obama to end drone strikes, which are widely unpopular in his country. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called on Wednesday on US President Barack Obama to end drone strikes, which are widely unpopular in his country.

Speaking next to Mr Obama in the Oval Office, Mr Sharif said he "brought up the issues of drones during our meeting, emphasising the need for an end to such strikes."

Mr Obama did not mention drones when addressing reporters. But in a joint statement, the two leaders said their partnership was "based on the principles of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Mr Obama also tried to reassure Pakistan on the status of Afghanistan, where US combat forces plan to withdraw next year.

Mr Obama said he was "confident" of a solution "that is good for Afghanistan, but also helps to protect Pakistan over the long term." Pakistan was the main supporter of the former Taleban regime and Afghan officials have long voiced suspicions about the connections between the hardline movement and Islamabad's powerful intelligence services.

Pakistan, in turn, has voiced alarm at the influence of its historic rival India in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taleban regime.

Mr Obama hailed Pakistan's sacrifices from extremism. More than 40,000 Pakistanis have died in attacks over the past decade.

"I know the Prime Minister is very much committed to try to reduce this incidence of terrorism inside Pakistan" and also wants to stop its export, Mr Obama said.