Nawaz Sharif's decision to invite PM Manmohan Singh to Pakistan a positive step: US

Nawaz Sharif's decision to invite PM Manmohan Singh to Pakistan a positive step: US
Washington:  Nawaz Sharif's decision to invite Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is a "positive sign", the United States said, with an official confirming that Secretary of State John Kerry called the new elected leader of Pakistan to congratulate him on his electoral success.

"We have seen those comments. I don't want to analyze it too much, but to say that it is a positive step and we look forward to working with the new government as it's formed," State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters at her maiden news conference in her current position.

Ms Psaki was responding to questions on the invitation by Sharif to Singh to attend his swearing in ceremony.

Mr Kerry yesterday called Sharif to congratulate him on his electoral victory.

"The Secretary called Mr Sharif yesterday to congratulate him on his strong showing in Saturday's elections, and told him that he looks forward to working with the government as the government is formed in Pakistan," she said.

"He looks forward to continuing a broad relationship of working together on a number of issues, including continuing to work on counterterrorism. Mr Sharif has indicated that economic development and growth is one of his focuses. But their focus right now is, of course, on forming the government. And once they do that, I'm sure we'll have more substantive conversations with them," she said.

Mr Kerry would like to travel to Pakistan, she said in response to a question.

"He (Kerry) has indicated that he would like to go. I don't have any trip announcements or dates for you on that. Of course, it would have been a little precarious to go while they were going through the transition, as they've been going through in the last couple of weeks," she said.

Ms Psaki said the US respects the choice of the Pakistani people, and the US looks forward to engaging with the next democratically elected government when it is formed in the coming weeks.

"It is worth noting as well that we are encouraged to see so many Pakistani citizens get involved in the democratic process. Preliminary reports suggest that these elections had the highest voter turnout in 35 years, with close to 60 per cent voter turnout as compared to 44 per cent in 2008," she said.

The United States, she said is aware of allegations of election rigging, but urged the stake holders to resolve it peacefully.

"We are aware of some of these reports of procedural irregularities during polling. We urge all parties and their supporters to peacefully address any election disputes in accordance with Pakistan's constitutional and legal processes.

These irregularities were limited to a very small region that was represented by a very small part of the elected body," she said.

Ms Psaki said the US is looking forward to continuing a broad relationship of working together on a number of issues, including continuing to work on counterterrorism.

"Mr Sharif has indicated that economic development and growth is one of his focuses. But their focus right now is, of course, on forming the government. And once they do that, I'm sure we'll have more substantive conversations with them," she said.
Story First Published: May 14, 2013 07:32 IST

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