Islamabad, Aug 26: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Monday assured visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai that his country will continue to extend all “possible facilitation” towards peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan.
Holding one-on-one and later delegation level talks with Karzai, Sharif “reaffirmed Pakistan’s strong support for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, through an inclusive, Afghan-owned and Afghan-led process”, said a ministry of foreign affairs statement.
This is Karzai’s first visit since Sharif’s swearing in in June. The Afghan president, who also met President Asif Ali Zardari, has agreed to extend his one-day stay by another day to hold further talks with Sharif Tuesday. Sharif is hosting the Afghan president for lunch.
Sharif also underlined Pakistan’s commitment to fight extremism and terrorism, which remained a formidable challenge faced by both countries and the region.
Karzai extended felicitations on behalf of the Afghan people to Sharif on his re-election for the third time.
He underlined the importance Afghanistan attached to its relations with Pakistan, continued cooperation to address common challenges including extremism and terrorism, and efforts to strengthen bilateral cooperation in diverse fields.
Karzai also underlined the importance of Pakistan’s endeavours to support the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, said the statement.
Karzai, who is visiting Islamabad at the invitation of the Pakistan prime minister, is accompanied by a high level delegation including Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul, National Security Adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta, Finance Minister Hazrat Omer Zakhilwall, and Chairman of the High Peace Council Salahuddin Rabbani.
Sharif expressed the new government’s resolve to further deepen and broaden the Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relationship in all dimensions. He stressed that bilateral relations must be underpinned by a strong trade and economic partnership.
The Afghan side reciprocated the desire to deepen the bilateral relationship, with a particular focus on expanded trade, economic cooperation, and trans-regional projects for connectivity, said the statement.
Finance ministers of the two countries had met on Sunday and agreed to take steps for strengthening bilateral cooperation in the areas of communications, energy, roads and railways links, regional development and connectivity.
Both sides agreed to streamline matters relating implementation of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA).
They decided to hold the next session of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Economic Commission (JEC) in Kabul in October 2014, the statement said.