Ghani, Sharif holding delegation level talks
KABUL (Pajhwok): Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and top military and civil leaders arrived in Kabul on Tuesday for a day-long visit to discuss with Afghan leaders ways how to step up cooperation against militants on both sides of the border, Pakistani TV reported.
In Islamabad, the Prime Minister Office said delegation level talks were currently underway between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at the presidential palace "Gul Khana.”
Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani and Finance Minister Eklil Ahmad Hakimi received the Pakistani prime minister and his accompanying delegation at the Hamid Karzai International airport. A guard of honour was presented by a contingent of the Afghan army to the premier upon arrival.
The visit follows an invitation from President Ghani. Sharif had previously visited Kabul during former president Hamid Karzai government . This is his second visit to Afghanistan since assuming office after May general elections and first since the inauguration of the unity government in Kabul.
After the formal talks at the presidential palace, the Afghan president will host lunch for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his delegation, which is expected to meet other leaders of the Afghan government including chief executive Abdullah Abdullah.
Prior to his Afghanistan visit, Sharif on Monday consulted his senior foreign policy and defence aides on the Kabul visit.
“It was reiterated to consolidate and further improve bilateral relations between the two neighbouring brotherly countries,” said a statement issued by the PM Office after the meeting.
ISI chief Lt Gen Riwzan Akhtar last week paid a visit to Kabul to do the groundwork for the trip by the prime minister and the army chief.
The improvements in bilateral relations after the change of government in Kabul were centred on enhanced counter-terrorism cooperation.
The relations saw an unprecedented cooperation after a militant attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar and the two sides for the first time conducted coordinated military operations against militants on their respective sides of the border.
Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune said three major issues would be discussed between Sharif and President Ashraf Ghani during the visit.
Sharif is expected to discuss Indian spy agency’s (Research Analysis Wing (RAW) growing activities in Pakistan, an issue the Pakistan Army Chief recently discussed in the last corps commanders’ meeting.
Pakistan military operation Zarb-i-Azab in lawless tribal belt and the presence of Mullah Fazlullah, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief, will be the third important point to be discussed during the meeting.
The prime minister is accompanied by his national security and foreign affairs advisor Sartaj Aziz, Chief of Army Staff Gen. Raheel Shairf, special assistant on foreign affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry and other senior officials.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry said building close relations with Afghanistan was a high priority in Pakistan’s foreign policy and a vital component of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s vision of a “peaceful neighbourhood.”
“The premier’s visit is taking place at a time when bilateral relations between the two countries are underpinned by unprecedented warmth, mutual trust and a shared vision of working in lockstep to build a peaceful and stable region,” the ministry statement added.
The statement said that the visit would further strengthen the positive momentum in bilateral relations and help intensify common endeavours in pursuit of durable peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.