Afghan, Pakistani leaders to discuss Taliban in Turkey

Afghan, Pakistani leaders to discuss Taliban in Turkey
Thu Feb 13, 2014 10:08:48

The Afghan and Pakistani leaders are expected to discuss security in Afghanistan after the NATO troop pullout and efforts to negotiate with the Taliban when they meet in Turkey Thursday.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul hosted Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif over dinner late Wednesday, but the summit officially begins on Thursday.

It is the eighth in Turkey since a regular consultation mechanism was established in 2007 to encourage the neighbors to cooperate in the fight against extremist groups.

The talks will primarily focus on ways to restore peace and promote reconciliation in Afghanistan, a senior Pakistani official told AFP.

Karzai has long blamed Pakistan for sheltering Taliban militants who lead the insurgency against his government.

Last month, Kabul reignited traditional cross-border suspicions by suggesting that Islamabad's spy agency was behind an attack on a Lebanese restaurant in the Afghan capital in which 21 people, including 13 foreigners, were killed.

Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the January 17 suicide assault, which was the deadliest attack on foreign civilians since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.

Intelligence officials and high-level military officials from the two countries were expected to hold closed-door talks on the sidelines of the Ankara meeting, the theme of which is "sustainable peace in the heart of Asia".

Karzai, who is due to step down after presidential elections on April 5, is pushing for Pakistan to help start peace talks with the Taliban.

He has demanded progress on talks before Afghanistan signs a security deal with the US that would allow about 10,000 troops to stay in the country after this year.


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