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Afghan officials visit Pak to discuss peace talks

Islamabad: Top Afghan officials today met with their Pakistani counterparts here to discuss bilateral ties and the revival of talks with the Taliban which were suspended following the announcement of the group’s founder Mullah Omar’s death last month.

Sartaj Aziz, the Adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on National Security and Foreign Affairs, led Pakistani delegation while Afghan side was represented by Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani.

Rabbani was accompanied by Masoom Stanekzai, Acting Defence Minister and Rahmatullah Nabil, Director General of Afghan National Directorate of Security.

Foreign Office (FO) said that they had candid discussion on Pak-Afghan bilateral relation, evolving political and security situation in Afghanistan, security cooperation between the two countries, and peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

“The Adviser conveyed Pakistan’s conviction for building a constructive and forward-looking relationship with Afghanistan, and conveyed Pakistan’s readiness to work with Afghanistan in overcoming all challenges,” it said.

Aziz emphasised that the two countries should have trust and faith in each other and discourage spoilers and detractors who have been trying to create mistrust between the two brotherly countries.

The Adviser reiterated Pakistan’s condemnation of recent terrorist incidents in Afghanistan, expressed condolences, and underscored the need for joint efforts to meet common challenges and root-out menace of terrorism.

He conveyed the message that Pakistan stands in solidarity with the fraternal people of Afghanistan and would continue to extend all possible support in their quest for peace and stability in Afghanistan, including through facilitating an Afghan-led and Afghan owned peace and reconciliation process.

Rabbani reaffirmed Afghanistan’s desire to work closely with Pakistan to enhance mutual cooperation in all areas of common interest.

He concurred with the imperative of common endeavours for countering terrorism and for enduring peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.

The two sides agreed to maintain close contact to promote bilateral cooperation, address all issues of common concern, and evolve a strategic consensus to respond to the security challenges of the region.

This was Rabbani’s first visit to Pakistan as Foreign Minister of Afghanistan.

The arrival of the delegation also comes amid tensions between Kabul and Islamabad after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani accused Pakistan this week of harbouring bomb-making camps following a series of deadly attacks in Kabul.

Pakistan last month hosted inaugural talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

But the Taliban distanced themselves from a second round of talks scheduled for the end of July, after the announcement of Omar’s death.