Afghan, Pakistani Leaders Talk Peace

Posted June 11th, 2011 at 3:45 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Afghan President Hamid Karzai wrapped up his two-day visit to neighboring Pakistan Saturday with announcing a number of new measures aimed at improving security and ending the almost 10-year-old war in his country which deeply divided both nations.

In a joint statement, the two sides announced steps to create a Joint Commission for Reconciliation and Peace in Afghanistan. The commission will look at ways to bring certain elements of the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table instead of continuing the armed struggle.

During a news conference in Islamabad Saturday, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said his country wants peace in Afghanistan and will do everything it can to make it happen.

The two sides also discussed trade, the effort to control the narcotics trade and coordinating their forces to stop border crossing by militants.

When asked about the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces and the handover to Afghan authorities, President Karzai said specifics are being worked out, so timing of the pullout could depend on the situation on the ground.

Pakistani and Afghan officials said they will continue to talk and that the next series of meeting will be held in the Afghan capital, Kabul, as soon as possible.

Mr. Karzai arrived in Islamabad Friday for a meeting with his counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari. Following talks, both presidents told reporters that Afghanistan-Pakistan relations remain strong, with both countries sharing the common goal of peace and prosperity.

President Karzai's visit to Pakistan is the first since al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. raid in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad on May 2. He said bin Laden's killing in Pakistan showed that the war against terrorism should focus on Islamabad and not Kabul.

Pakistan was one of only three countries that recognized Afghanistan's Taliban-led government in the 1990s. And some members of Pakistan's intelligence services are thought to maintain links with the Taliban and other insurgent groups in Afghanistan.