ISLAMABAD: US Secretary of State John Kerry flew to Pakistan late Wednesday to press the new government on eliminating militant safe-havens as US-led troops prepare to leave Afghanistan.
He arrived in Islamabad shortly before 9PM ahead of meetings with President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief of staff General Ashfaq Kayani on Thursday.
Pakistani-US relations have been deeply troubled in recent years but recovered somewhat from the crisis sparked by the US killing of al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden in May 2011.
Islamabad demands an end to US drone attacks targeting al Qaeda and Taliban operatives and bristles over US insistence that it do more to eradicate the threat posed by Islamist militants.
Pakistan, where anti-American sentiment runs high, complains that the United States fails to appreciate the sacrifices it has made in fighting terror, claiming to have lost 40,000 people since 2001.
But US officials say they are hopeful that Sharif's election and the impending withdrawal of US-led troops from Afghanistan offers a new opportunity to re-craft relations along realistic objectives.
"We have obviously seen a pretty tumultuous relationship with Pakistan over the course of the last four and half years," a senior US official told reporters.
"Starting last summer I think we entered into a very constructive period. We really try to have much more sober expectations, to be more realistic," the official added.