President Barack Obama stressed U.S. support for Pakistan during a meeting with President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday and reiterated plans to visit Pakistan later this year, the White House said.

The discussion focused on our shared efforts to fight terrorism and promote regional stability, specifically on the importance of cooperating toward a peaceful and stable outcome in Afghanistan, the White House said in a statement following the meeting in the Oval Office.

Bilateral ties have been strained in the last year by U.S. frustration about militant sanctuaries in Pakistan, which feed violence aimed at U.S. troops in neighboring Afghanistan, and by complaints in Islamabad that U.S. officials do not fully grasp political and social pressures Pakistani leaders face.

Zardari flew to Washington to attend a memorial service on Friday for Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, the veteran diplomat who was Obama's special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, where about 100,000 U.S. soldiers are fighting a tenacious insurgency in the 10th year of an unpopular war.

Obama plans to start withdrawing some troops from Afghanistan in 2011, and other NATO nations are also looking to end their combat roles there.

But a surge in violence in the last year has raised questions about whether foreign troops can establish lasting security in a country with widespread poverty and and a weak, corruption-ridden government.

Husain Haqqani, the Pakistani ambassador in Washington, told reporters that the two leaders voiced concern about rising extremism worldwide that he said was behind the recent assassination of a Pakistani governor and this month's shooting rampage in the U.S. state of Arizona that killed six people and critically wounded a member of Congress.

Zardari is due to return to the United States for a more broad official visit in the next few months and Obama, as part of U.S. efforts to strengthen the bilateral relationship, will also visit Pakistan.