Afghan delegation visits Pakistan to discuss Torkham border tensions

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ISLAMABAD: A six-member delegation led by Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai arrived on Monday to hold talks with the government over the Torkham border management.

The Afghan delegation visited Pakistan on the invitation of Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz, the foreign office statement said.

The Pakistan delegation was led by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Choudhry.

The delegation met in a friendly atmosphere, the statement said.

During the meeting Aizaz Choudhry told members that management of the Pak-Afghan border is crucial to combat terrorism. He said that managing the border will prevent non-state actors from entering the country, sources said.

He added that border management will not just benefit Pakistan but also Afghanistan. A border management mechanism will prevent smuggling of goods, he said.

The Pakistan Foreign Secretary said that gates like the one planned at Torkham should be set up at other crossings too.

Afghan deputy foreign minister said that both countries should reach a consensus over border mechanisms. He said that Afghanistan should also be consulted before formulating any such mechanisms.

It was decided that both sides will share what has been discussed during the meeting with their respective governments.

Tensions between both countries reached the tipping point last week when Afghan security forces and Pakistan Army exchanged fire along the Torkham border. Pakistan claimed Afghan security forces had begun the shelling in response to it building a security gate within its side of the border.

One Pakistani major had died in the exchange of fire along the border and several civilians were injured.

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