Pakistan renews commitment to Afghan peace
KABUL (PAN): Afghan President Hamid Karzai, accompanied by a high-level delegation including cabinet ministers and senior officials, would be visiting Islamabad on Monday (tomorrow), a spokesman for the Pakistan embassy in Kabul said on Sunday.
It will be the first highest-level exchange between Pakistan and Afghanistan since the democratic transition and swearing-in of the new Pakistan government as a result of the May general election.
Coming in response to an invitation from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Karzai's visit comes at a time when Afghanistan is undergoing important political and security transitions and the drawdown of NATO/ISAF forces is due to be completed by December 2014.
Akhtar Munir, the press attaché at the embassy, said Sharif had articulated a forward-looking vision of a peaceful and prosperous neighbourhood defined by close, cooperative relations with all neighbours. His invitation to Karzai and commitment to working closely with Afghan leadership was part of that vision, he added.
Earlier, Munir recalled, Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz had visited Kabul on July 21 with a message of goodwill and cordiality from the people of Pakistan and the desire of the new government to comprehensively upgrade the bilateral relationship.
"President Karzai’s visit will carry forward this process of constructive engagement between the two countries. The two leaders will have in-depth consultations on all issues of common interest, including the evolving situation in the region as well as ways to deepen and broaden bilateral relations," he said in a statement.
Peace and stability in Afghanistan were in Pakistan’s vital interest, according to the statement that said Islamabad had extended consistent support for the promotion of reconciliation in the war-torn country and remained committed to working together with neighbours.
Bilateral trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan has witnessed impressive growth in recent years and reached $2.44 billion in 2012. Pakistan’s exports stood at $2.24 billion, making Afghanistan the third largest destination for its products.
The major import items from Afghanistan are vegetables, fruits, raw cotton, carpets and rugs, hides and skins. Recognising the vast potential, the two countries have agreed to expand bilateral trade to $5 billion by 2015.
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