Pakistan’s Sharif Visits Kabul For Talks With Karzai


President Karzai Prime Minister Sharif in Islamabad. Aug 2013 Hamid Karzai also met Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad in August

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has arrived in the Afghan capital Kabul on Saturday for talks with President Hamid Karzai.

High on the agenda will be efforts to revive Afghanistan’s peace process before Nato troops withdraw next year.

Mr Karzai has said he wants Islamabad “to facilitate peace talks” with the Taliban, over whom – he says – Pakistan has a high degree of influence.

It is believed the Taliban launch attacks from bases inside Pakistan.

Elements of Pakistan’s intelligence service have also been accused of backing the Afghan Taliban, although Islamabad strongly denies this.

“Both the leaders will discuss the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan,” Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said.

The Taliban have refused direct contact with President Karzai or with the Afghan High Peace Council, dismissing them as puppets of Washington.

London talks

The High Peace Council wants to open negotiations with Taliban insurgents who have fought US-led Nato and Afghan forces since 2001.

President Karzai was also angered when the Taliban opened an office in Qatar in June, dealing another blow to reconciliation hopes.

Mr Karzai visited Islamabad in August for talks with the Pakistani prime minister but Saturday’s one-day visit is Mr Sharif’s first to Kabul since he took office in May.

The two leaders also met British Prime Minister David Cameron in London last month for the fourth of a series of trilateral meetings designed to foster regional stability.

One of President Karzai’s main demands has been the release of high-profile Taliban prisoners held in Pakistan in the hope that this will help jump-start direct talks with insurgents.

Pakistan said it recently released former Taliban military commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who is seen by Kabul as a key figure in bringing militants to the negotiating table.

But Taliban sources have complained that Baradar is in effect still behind bars in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Washington and Kabul are still finalising a deal allowing US troops to remain in Afghanistan after 2014.

Mr Karzai has so far refused to sign the pact, seeking further assurances from the US.

Source: BBC

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