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    Abdullah, Khar confer on key Afghan issues

    KABUL (PAN): Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar during her recent visit to Afghanistan called on Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, the National Coalition of Afghanistan head, and other senior members of the main opposition party.

    During the meeting, Abdullah and Khar underscored the need for a lasting peace and stability in the region as well as the importance of coordination between Afghanistan and Pakistan in this regard, the coalition said in a statement.

    The Pakistani leader noted that the peace process was a crucial and imperative initiative which required serious consideration.

    Khar highlighted the ongoing security challenges facing both Afghanistan and Pakistan, saying Pakistan was the prime victim of extremism in the region and suffered the most casualties resulting from extremism. She added Pakistan was sparing no effort to combat extremism and further strengthen the peace process.

    With regard to Afghanistan’s peace and reconciliation process, she stated peace in Afghanistan needed to be an Afghan process, led by the Afghans. The visiting foreign minister said during the course of her visit to Kabul, she outreached to several Afghan political figures to convey this message and receive their input on the ongoing reconciliation process.

    Khar said it was of utmost importance to involve all Afghan political leaders and movements in Afghanistan in the reconciliation process and in the talks with the armed opposition.

    For his part, Dr. Abdullah commended Pakistan’s efforts at strengthening relations between the two countries and its role in advancing peace with the armed opposition.

    He said the National Coalition of Afghanistan supported the reconciliation talks with the armed opposition, but it was essential that the Taliban publicly declared their readiness to engagement in sincere, constructive and result oriented-discussions with the Afghan government to move the reconciliation process forward.

    He also said it was vital that the armed opposition’s identity be introduced to the Afghan people and future peace talks held within Afghanistan.

    Dr. Abdullah added the opening of a Taliban office in Qatar or in any other country was not a necessary precondition, as the Taliban could take advantage of the office. He insisted the position of Afghanistan government and the international community should be clear and transparent in their discussions with the armed opposition.

    He also indicated that the genuine participation of Pakistan in the peace process was a necessity, but added the presence of safe havens and sanctuaries for extremist elements in Pakistan was a serious concern for the Afghan people as well as major threat to regional security.

    Abdullah stressed the need for an end to Taliban activities within Pakistan as well as the elimination of related safe havens and sanctuaries.

    He added the Afghan people were deeply concerned that the Taliban were empowering under the notion of reconciliation and peace talks and preparing for their goals of regaining power in Afghanistan once the international and coalition forces withdraw from the country.

    Foreign Minister Khar expressed gratitude to Dr. Abdullah and also invited him to visit Pakistan in the near future. Dr. Abdullah said he would provide his response at a convenient time.

    Khar also met with other members of the Senior Leadership Council of the National Coalition of Afghanistan, including Mohammad Younus Qanuni and Ahmad Wali Massoud. They also discussed the peace process with the Taliban as well as issues of mutual interest aimed at strengthening peace and stability in both countries and the region.

    pr/ma