Pakistani PM to visit Afghanistan on Friday

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Islamabad, April 5 (IANS) Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will pay a day-long visit to Kabul on Friday to hold talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said here on Thursday.

The ministry said the Prime Minister will have in-depth consultations with Ghani and Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah on matters of mutual interest, including strengthening bilateral political, economic, security and counter-terrorism cooperation, returning Afghan refugees, combating drug production and illegal drug trade, the Afghan peace process and the regional political and security situation.

Abbasi’s visit “is taking place in the backdrop of Pakistan’s support to President Ghani’s offer of peace talks with the Taliban for lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and strengthening bilateral engagement”, the statement said.

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Ghani, in his speech at the Kabul Process meeting on February 28, asked the Taliban to hold peace talks with the government, saying the government will recognise the Taliban as a political party.

The ministry said Pakistan will continue to support Afghanistan’s development efforts through capacity-building in infrastructure, education and health in Afghanistan.

During his visit, Abbasi would also discuss with the Afghan leadership ways to facilitate travel between the two countries, assist education and medical treatment of Afghan nationals in Pakistan, and expand trade and transit facilitation between the two countries.

To promote regional economic integration, the two countries are participating in key trans-regional initiatives — Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline and Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA-1000).

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Abbasi recently joined Ghani in the western Afghan city of Herat to inaugurate the TAPI gas pipeline project. The two sides are also engaged in undertaking major bilateral rail-road connectivity projects.

–IANS

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