Sharif due in Kabul tomorrow to push for peace
ISLAMABAD (PAN): Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will visit Kabul on Saturday to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai for talks on issues of mutual interest, including efforts to revive Afghanistan’s stalled peace process, the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad confirmed on Friday.
The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement issued late Friday said President Hamid Karzai had extended invitation to the prime minister to visit Kabul in August when he visited Islamabad. The Afghan leader had called on Islamabad to play its role in advancing the Afghan peace process.
“The prime minister’s visit is taking place at a time when important political and security transitions are underway in Afghanistan, marked by forthcoming elections and NATO/ISAF troop drawdown during 2014,” the statement said.
It said that the prime minister had stressed the importance of close, cooperative relations with all of Pakistan’s neighbours, noting that Sharif’s visit to Afghanistan reinforces efforts in that direction.
The prime minister would hold meeting with leaders of the Afghanistan’s High Peace Council (HPC), led by its Chairman Salahuddin Rabbani.
Earlier, the prime minister had emphasized that Pakistan-Afghanistan relations should be underpinned by a strong trade and economic partnership.
It will be Sharif's first visit to Afghanistan since he took office in May for a third term as prime minister. “He will meet with President Karzai and will discuss with him issues of mutual interest”, Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said on Thursday.
He said the agenda of the visit would cover a broad spectrum of bilateral relations, peace and reconciliation process and regional cooperation. Pakistan attaches high importance to its relations with Afghanistan, he added.
Pakistan has released several Afghan Taliban prisoners so that they can mediate in the talks with the militants. Three more Taliban prisoners were released on Tuesday as part of its attempt to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan.
The newly released include Mullah Abdul Ahad Jahangirwal, who is reported to be an adviser to the Taliban leader Mullah Omar, Mullah Abdul Manan, a leader from Helmand and Mullah Younus.
Recently HPC Chairperson Salahuddin Rabbani led a five-member delegation on a visit to Pakistan from November 19-21.
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