"We have a lot to talk about, and relationship with Pakistan could not be more important. We're very anxious to have a series of high-level, important discussions over the course of next few days," Kerry said, as he welcomed Sharif at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.

Sharif is scheduled to meet Obama at the White House on October 23. Vice President Joe Biden will also attend the meeting, at the end of which, the two leaders are expected to issue a joint statement.

Kerry in his brief remarks, also highlighted the re-establishment of democracy in Pakistan, which is now working hard to "get the economy moving".

He emphasized that dealing with the insurgency is important for regional stability. "On its own, a democracy that is working hard to get its economy moving and deal with insurgency and also important to the regional stability. So, we're very happy to have you (Sharif) here. I look forward to the conversations," he said.

On his first official visit to the US since July 1999, which was in the middle of the Kargil war, Sharif, who is leading a high-powered delegation, kicked off his visit with a meeting with Kerry, who hosted him for a dinner at the Foggy Bottom headquarters of the State Department.

On his Twitter page, Kerry wrote before the meeting that he "enjoyed hospitality" of Pakistan PM Sharif and was "glad" to "welcome him back to US State Department."

"He (Sharif) has not been here since 1999, when he was last in office. He has received me several times very generously in Pakistan," Kerry said in his remarks at the start of the meeting. Sharif did not make any remarks at the top of the meeting, which was opened to the pooled press.

Over the next few days, the visiting Pakistan Prime Minister is scheduled to hold a series of meetings with the top US officials, including President Obama on October 23.

Sharif was accompanied by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani.


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