PM Abbasi to head to Kabul for day-long visit: FO

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Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will visit Kabul on April 6 “in the backdrop of Pakistan’s support to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer of peace talks with the Taliban,” the Foreign Office said on Wednesday.

Over the day-long visit — to be undertaken on the invitation of Ghani — the prime minister will discuss the Afghan peace process and the regional political and security situation. Bilateral trade, return of Afghan refugees, combating drug production and clamping down on the narcotics trade will also come under discussion during the meeting.

Besides the Afghan president, the prime minister will also meet Afghan Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah.

The Foreign Office said Pakistan wishes to continue to support Afghanistan’s development efforts through capacity building in infrastructure, educational and health sectors.

According to the Foreign Office, PM Abbasi will also discuss ways to facilitate travel between the two countries and expand bilateral trade and transit facilitation.

Last month, Foreign Minister Kawaja Asif had also extended support to Kabul’s proposed political process seeking to recognise the Taliban as a legitimate political group, and said Pakistan is ready for one-on-one talks with the Afghan Taliban.

President Ghani had proposed a ceasefire and release of prisoners as part of a range of options, including new elections involving the militants and a constitutional review as part of a pact with the Taliban to end a conflict that last year alone killed or wounded more than 10,000 Afghan civilians.

In return for Ghani’s offer, the Taliban would have to recognise the Afghan government and respect the rule of law, including the rights of women, one of the priorities for Afghanistan’s international partners.

Taliban officials have acknowledged that they have faced pressure from friendly countries to accept talks and said their recent offers to talk to the United States reflected concerns that they could be seen to be standing in the way of peace.

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