WASHINGTON - The United States has described this week’s meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Barack Obama as “productive,” stating that Pakistan-US relationship continues on positive trajectory, despite differences on some issues.

The White House and the State Department underscored the importance of Nawaz-Obama talks, stating the meeting had paved the way for strengthened US-Pakistan cooperation.

“We obviously had an important meeting with the Prime Minister. It was a productive meeting here at the White House, and our relationship with Pakistan continues on a positive trajectory,” President Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney remarked.

State Department spokesperson Marief Harf said, “Our relationship with Pakistan continues on a positive trajectory – that’s across the board – on the variety of issues that we talk about. This visit has provided an opportunity for our leaders to discuss concrete cooperation on issues of mutual concern, including energy, trade and economic development, and regional stability, and countering violent extremism.

“It’s a close partnership; we are happy that it’s on a positive trajectory, and we’ll keep working with them on all of these issues, not just counterterrorism.”

Meanwhile, The New York Times said in an editorial that Nawaz-Obama used their first meeting at the White House this week to begin to set the relationship on a more constructive path.

The White House Press Secretary told reporters that the meeting provided an opportunity for the leaders to discuss “concrete cooperation on issues of mutual concern, such as energy, trade and economic development, regional stability, and countering violent extremism.”

“We want to advance our shared interest in a stable, secure and prosperous Pakistan that is contributing to regional and international security and prosperity, and we want to find ways for our countries to cooperate,” Carney added.

At the same time, the White House spokesman noted differences on some issues between the two sides, stating that the two countries are working together to address Islamabad’s concerns.

“Obviously we don’t agree on everything with Pakistan, but it is important even where we have differences on some issues that we work together to cooperate where we can. And we have a strong ongoing dialogue with Pakistan regarding all aspects of our bilateral relationship and shared interests, including security and counterterrorism cooperation, and we work together to address concerns that Pakistan has in these areas.” “So all the issues are on the table when these leaders meet. And the meeting was very productive, as was the series of meetings that were held during the course of the Prime Minister’s visit.“

Asked about a news story in The Washington Post on drones, the White House Press Secretary said “What I can’t speak to is specific operational issues.  What I can tell you is that on matters of bilateral cooperation, on counterterrorism, we have regular conversations with Pakistan and that is obviously a piece of the kind of conversations that we had during the Prime Minister’s visit.”  Carney also reminded reporters that Pakistan has been a major victim of terror and underlined the importance of US assistance for the key South Asian country.

“It’s critically important that we work closely with our partners, including Pakistan, providing them with the support they need in helping build their capacity to carry out counterterrorism operations in their own countries.  I mean, it is useful to remember that Pakistan has suffered greatly at the hands of terrorists and violent extremists, by some measures perhaps more than any other country.  And we have a common enemy and a common cause.  And we have long said that there needs to be a coordinated and concerted effort to combat violent extremists of all kinds, whoever they threat. “So we had a broader agenda with Prime Minister, and that broader agenda was discussed.  But it’s important to remember that our relationship with Pakistan goes beyond these issues, and that there are economic and other matters very much a part of the discussion.”

The Times editorial said, “Nawaz Sharif, who was elected in May, is stronger politically than his predecessor.” It was also significant that Nawaz Sharif brought along the Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar, underscoring his focus on reviving Pakistan’s devastated economy.  “Of course, it is not just the emphasis on development, foreign investment and trade that impressed his American hosts. Nawaz Sharif has also acknowledged that there will be no economic growth without security, and there will be no security unless Afghanistan is at peace and Pakistan’s relations with India are improved.” On American drone strikes against insurgent targets in the Pakistani border region,the editorial noted, the issue remain a source of tension, and concerns raised by international nongovernmental groups about civilians killed by drones should lead to limiting the programme.

“Obama’s decision to meet with Nawaz Sharif, free up $1.5 billion in aid that had been put on hold and offer assistance on energy and public works projects shows he has confidence that Nawaz Sharif is committed to building a democratic state. It is in the interest of both countries that Nawaz Sharif succeeds.”