UNITED NATIONS - US Vice-President Joe Biden on Friday said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s success as the democratically elected leader of Pakistan is ‘very very important’.

Such a remark by the American Vice-President is of great significance given weeks of protest against the government by the supporters of PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

Biden holding Sharif’s hand several times during his brief opening remarks in front of the media at the UN headquarters in New York was meant to send a strong signal that the US supports a strong democratically elected government in Pakistan.

The success of Sharif as a democratically elected leader of a country of such consequence “is very very important”, Biden told reporters.

“The United States has a great interest in Pakistan’s success,” Biden said, while welcoming Prime Minister Sharif.

Nawaz Sharif on the occasion said he looked forward to constructive discussions with Vice President Biden. The US vice president said the better Pakistan does, the happier the United States is as it wants the country to succeed.

“The bilateral relations have improved further. I am looking forward to constructive talks again today,” Prime Minister Sharif said.

“We have enormous mutual interest; we are both striving together to combat terrorism to provide for prosperity for our people, expand trade opportunities and access to education. There is a great deal our countries can do together, bilaterally, internationally and regionally,” Biden said.

The US vice president said earlier in the day Prime Minister Sharif and he co-chaired a summit on UN peacekeeping missions. “We have made real progress,” Biden said, praising Pakistan’s leadership in peacekeeping missions and other global issues.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stressed the commonality of interests and said the two countries had a lot of wide-ranging subjects to discuss.

Prime Minister Sharif also recalled his visit to the White House where he had talks with President Barack Obama and said the relationship between the two countries had improved further.

The US side at the talks included Special Representative Dan Feldman while the Pakistani delegation included Adviser on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan Ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbas Jilani and senior officials.

US CALLS FOR DIALOGUE TO RESOLVE POLITICAL CRISIS

Even as the anti-government protests in Islamabad appear to be drawing far less people now, the US on Friday said that it is opposed to extra-constitutional changes to the democratic system in Pakistan.

“With regard to the protests that have been ongoing in Pakistan, although they certainly appear to be drawing far fewer people at this point; so we’ll have to see what continues to happen with them in the coming days and weeks,” US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Daniel Feldman said in New York.

“We believe all parties should work together to resolve their differences through peaceful dialogue in ways that strengthen Pakistan’s democracy and rule of law. We’ve always strongly opposed any efforts to impose extra-constitutional changes to the democratic system,” Feldman said.

“We have been closely monitoring the demonstrations through our embassy and with others but encouraging all sides to refrain from violence, to exercise restraint and to respect the rule of law. So peaceful protests, as we know from the US example, and freedom of expression are very important aspects of democracy,” he said.

“We have seen the numerous reports through our embassy’s engagement that there had been many efforts, obviously, to resolve the current situation. We are in no way involved in this process or in any discussions between parties, so we don’t have any further kind of analysis in terms of what may actually be occurring, but we look forward to discussing the current status with Prime Minister Sharif and his senior advisers,” he said.