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    Pakistan to release more Taliban prisoners

    KABUL (PAN): Pakistan has assured to release more Taliban prisoners held in its jails following the request made by Afghanistan authorities on Friday.

    A delegation led by Afghan Foreign Affairs Minister Zalmai Rassoul had asked the Pakistani government to release these prisoners that would help expedite peace talks with the Taliban movement -- which could eventually bring an end to the decade-old protracted civil war.

     They have agreed to “release of more prisoners, facilitating contacts and urging the Taliban to renounce ties to Al-Qaida. Both sides also agreed to operationalize a Joint Commission to address the prisoners issue as announced during the visit of President Hamid Karzai to Islamabad in June 2011,” said the joint statement issued after the high-level talks in Islamabad.

    Rassoul held meetings with his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar and Pakistani premier Raja

    Raja Parvez Ashraf in Islamabad on Friday, where the issue of Taliban prisoners were raised.

    The two sides expressed satisfaction on the outcome of the recent visit to Pakistan by the High Peace Council delegation led by its Chairman SalahuddinRabbani and the Afghans thanked Pakistan for releasing prisoners in response to the council’s request.

    Besides, both sides discussed the issue of cross border incursions and shelling and agreed to have an institutionalized mechanism to address this issue. In this regard, they also agreed to have closer coordination between the two countries.

    To strengthen ties, Afghanistan and Pakistan had also agreed to enter into a bilateral Visa Abolition Agreement for holders of diplomatic passports to facilitate visa free travel for the diplomats from the two nations.

    Realizing that a Strategic Partnership Agreement (SPA) will further deepen the bilateral relations between the two countries, both sides agreed to initiate negotiations for signing of an SPA, said the joint statement.

    On trade, while expressing satisfaction at the current volume of annual bilateral trade touching $2.5 billion, the two countries agreed to take facilitative steps to further enhance two-way trade and achieve the target of $5 billon annual trade by 2015.

    Pr/vp

     



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