Kerry hoping to improve US-Pakistan relations in talks with new prime minister, other leaders

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is meeting with top Pakistani leaders, hoping the U.S. can open a new chapter in Washington's often testy relationship with Islamabad.

Islamic extremism, the war in neighboring Afghanistan and Pakistani opposition to U.S. drone strikes are expected to highlight Kerry's talks Thursday with newly elected Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (nah-WAHZ' shah-REEF') and Pakistan's powerful army chief, Gen. Ashram Parvez Kayani.

Sharif came to power in Pakistan's first transition between civilian governments. During a meeting with U.S. Embassy employees in Islamabad, Kerry called it "a historic transition" that "nobody should diminish."

Kerry also addressed rising anti-American sentiment in Pakistan, partly caused by the U.S. drone attacks on Islamic extremists. Pakistani officials see the strikes as a violation of their sovereignty.