Afghan president arrives in Pakistan for key security talks

Updated: 2014-11-14 13:30


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ISLAMABAD - Afghan President Ashraf Ghani arrived in Pakistan on Friday on a two-day official visit for important talks on key security issues and to expand economic ties, officials said.

The Afghan president will seek Pakistan's help in talks with the Taliban insurgents to avoid any instability in the post-NATO Afghanistan. Pakistan role is seen as very important in the peace process.

President Ghani is accompanied by a high level delegation of over 100 people, including senior leaders, cabinet members and businessmen. This is Ashraf Ghani's first visit to Pakistan after assuming presidency in September and his second foreign trip. He first visited China last month.

The Foreign Ministry said that discussions will be held on all dimensions of Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relations during the visit "with a particular focus on bilateral political engagement."

Other issues on the agenda include trade and economic cooperation, border security, connectivity, energy and people-to- people contacts.

The Afghan president will hold official talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Mamnoon Hussain. The Afghan president and prime minister will briefly speak at a joint press conference, officials said. The two leaders are likely to witness a Pakistan-Afghanistan cricket match in Islamabad.

"The visit comes at a historic juncture in Afghanistan, marked by the recent peaceful transfer of power and formation of the government of national unity. The recent developments in Afghanistan offer unique opportunity to transform the bilateral ties and to build a strong and forward looking relationship," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said ahead of the visit.

Economic relations are also on top of the agenda and Afghan Finance Minister Umer Zakhelwal was in Pakistan to explore ways to further boost bilateral trade.

Zakhelwal met his Pakistani counterpart Ishaq Dar in Islamabad on Thursday and both agreed to enhance bilateral trade from the current 2.5 billion dollars to 5 billion dollars in the next two to three years, the Finance Ministry said. The bilateral trade was only 500 million dollars in 2001.

Pakistan is providing transit facilities to the landlocked Afghanistan since 1960s under a transit agreement and the transit issues will also be discussed during the talks in the next two days. Afghanistan has long seeking Pakistan's cooperation for trade with India via its land routes. Pakistan currently allows Afghan trucks to drop India-bound trade goods at Wahga border.