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US considers resumption of aid money to Pakis -

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DAVID MARK: Relations between the United States and Pakistan seem to be on the mend.

Tomorrow the US president, Barack Obama, hosts the Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, who's been in office since May.

It's the first time the two have met since Mr Sharif returned to the job he was deposed from in 1999.

The US administration is rewarding his domestic and foreign policies by asking Congress to resume $300 million in aid that was blocked to punish Pakistan for being too cosy with extremists and the Taliban.

It's a big turn-around after the low point of 2011, when the two countries fell out spectacularly after US special forces killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

Peter Lloyd reports.

PETER LLOYD: The hardliners in the American system have never quite trusted Nawaz Sharif. He has a history of supporting the Taliban, he's suspected of harbouring militant Islamic views himself and he's got profoundly strange and haughty manner.

After a lifetime of wealth and privilege, the Pakistani industrialist, and now third time prime minister, is renowned for demanding the trappings of high office, including the fine food.

When Mr Sharif flew into Washington last night, the welcome dinner included butternut squash soup with pistachio cream, followed by grilled halal lamb and dessert - that was cake - said to be Mr Sharif's favourite part of the meal.

Secretary of state John Kerry was all smiles.

JOHN KERRY: We're very anxious to have a series of high level, important discussions over the course of the next few days.

PETER LLOYD: Pakistan and the United States have a long, complicated and co-dependent relationship.

The bottom line for Washington is that it wants Islamabad to help, not hinder, its exit from Afghanistan. It also wants Mr Sharif to make inroads against Pakistan's covert support for the Taliban and other militant proxies.

Daniel Markey is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

DANIEL MARKEY: We're still heavily involved in this war in Afghanistan, which is right next door. We need, to some extent, the Pakistani supply lines, which are very important, to even just bring some of our supplies out of Afghanistan.

And I think we shouldn't completely dismiss the possibility that we can have better cooperation on the counter terrorism front moving ahead.

With this new leadership in Islamabad, I think this is a test. This is a test to see whether a new prime minister and, soon, a new army chief, will do better than in the past.

PETER LLOYD: America is a frustrated partner. Billions in aid and military hardware to Pakistan supposedly to fight a Western proxy war on terrorism has instead yielded a vastly more complicated landscape.

Pakistan's army and spy service set up militant organisations to rattle the old enemy India and exert control over Afghanistan. Now these forces are largely beyond Islamabad's control and they've turned on their makers and begun a home grown insurgency to bring down the nuclear armed Pakistani government.

In their talks tomorrow, Mr Sharif is expected to make some demands on president Obama, chief among them to lay off the drone strikes that are meant to target militants in Pakistan's tribal region, close to Afghanistan.

Hundreds of Pakistani civilians including women and children have been killed too.

Sherry Rehman is Pakistan's former ambassador to the United States.

SHERRY REHMAN: It's really a vexing issue. In fact it refracts the US in a very negative and I would say unhappy light, and obviously it's a violation, an egregious violation, of sovereignty and I understand that that conversation, which of course the United Nations is also taking up quite strongly now.

PETER LLOYD: From your time as Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, is it still true to say that the Americans hold a deep suspicion about Sharif and that he's probably the least welcome prime minister in recent years in the sense that they do suspect he's the kind of leader who would do deals with people who are sworn enemies of America?

SHERRY REHMAN: I'm not sure that Sharif has demonstrated that capacity to meet challenges that are staring him very squarely in the eye, one of them being a crisis in public finances.

PETER LLOYD: How much sense of insult still lingers over the raid that killed Osama bin Laden?

SHERRY REHMAN: Look, I think the resentment to the Americans is not so much about Osama bin Laden as it is about ongoing drone strikes.

DAVID MARK: That's Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's former ambassador to Washington DC ending Peter Lloyd's report.