Pakistan's Sharif and Obama Talk of Improved Ties
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has asked U.S. President Barack Obama to end drone strikes on his country, strikes that are widely unpopular in Pakistan.
Following talks Wednesday at the White House, Mr. Sharif said he emphasized "the need for an end to such strikes." Mr. Obama did not mention drones in his remarks to reporters.
But in a published report Thursday, The Washington Post says top officials in Pakistan's government have secretly endorsed the U.S. drone program. The newspaper says top-secret CIA documents and Pakistani diplomatic memos it has obtained shows Islamabad received classified briefings on strikes and casualty counts.
Mr. Obama cited Pakistan's battle with terrorism, saying more than 40,000 Pakistanis have died in extremist attacks during the past decade. He said he knows Mr. Sharif is very much committed to try to reduce terrorism in Pakistan and prevent it from being exported.
A joint statement from the two leaders said their partnership is "based on the principles of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity."
Mr. Obama also said he tried to reassure Mr. Sharif about the status of Afghanistan, where U.S. combat forces plan to withdraw next year. He said he is "confident" of a solution "that is good for Afghanistan, but also helps to protect Pakistan over the long term."
Military Drill Sparked Massive Australian Wildfire: Investigators
Australian officials say a routine military drill is responsible for sparking one of the largest of the dozens of fires that have ravaged the country's most populous state.
Investigators say an explosion during a live-fire military exercise ignited bushland near the city of Lithgow, west of Sydney. The blaze has burned 47,000 hectares of land and destroyed several houses.
Mark Greenhill, the mayor of the nearby town of Blue Mountains, said he hopes to see a transparent investigation.
Though the danger has eased somewhat with the onset of cooler weather, more than 60 fires are still burning in New South Wales state, with many still raging out of control. Since late last week, the fires have destroyed over 200 homes and led to the death of one person.