Karzai, Zardari begin Cameron-hosted talks
KABUL (PAN): Focused on initiatives to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan and engage the Taliban in effective talks, a trilateral dialogue between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the UK formally began on Monday in London.
The series of meetings between President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan President Asif Zardari with British Prime Minister David Cameron in London are aimed to boost cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan and promote regional stability.
Cameron, who dined with Karzai and Zardari later Sunday, initiated the meetings last year to focus on preventing a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan when British and other NATO troops withdraw from the country next year.
Downing Street said on Sunday the trilateral meeting will include Afghan and Pakistani army and intelligence chiefs for the first time.
"This trilateral process sends a very clear message to the Taliban: now is the time for everyone to participate in a peaceful political process in Afghanistan."
Seen in-depth talks with both presidents and their key officials, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said the goal was to help the two nations "build closer co-operation around their common interest in a secure future".
As part of the process, Karzai and Zardari have agreed to work together on a framework of co-operation following the international troops' departure next year.
Pakistan has recently announced it planned to release all Afghan Taliban prisoners held in the countries jails, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the second in command after the Taliban's overall leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.
Kabul hopes a senior figure like Baradar could influence the Taliban to engage in talks with Kabul views the recent freeing by Pakistan of a number of Taliban prisoners as positive, the BBC says.
Karzai told the BBC's Pashto Service that Afghan people should take the initiative for peace into their own hands. "As neither the communist government, nor the mujahedeen brought peace and security to the country, if we do not carefully manage our peace process the way we did not in the past, we will not achieve stability or security," Karzai said.
At the trilateral talks, the first two rounds of which were held in Kabul and New York last year, Afghanistan and Pakistan are expected to make further progress on a proposed strategic partnership agreement the two countries said in September they were committed to.
On Sunday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Janan Musazai in Kabul said Pakistan had delivered a copy of the proposed accord to the Afghan government. He said Kabul was willing to enter strategic cooperation agreement with Islamabad if the Pakistan-Afghanistan Transit Trade Agreement was implemented and problems facing Afghan traders at the Karachi seaport were resolved.
The talks in London come amid fresh tensions between Afghanistan and its western allies, as President Karzai recently warned the West not to use peace talks as a lever against his government.
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