Nawaz Sharif, Hamid Karzai to hold second round of talks today

Islamabad, Aug 27: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who extended his stay here by another day, will hold their second round of talks in the picturesque hill station of Murree during which "core and much harder issues" are likely to be discussed.

While Karzai was here on a day-long visit, he extended his stay by another day after Sharif requested him to do so. Media report said much of the time in the talks yesterday had been consumed by the economic agenda and the extended time would provide the two sides an opportunity to deliberate on thorny issues which have repeatedly affected bilateral ties.

Sharif-Karzai 2nd round of talks today

The extended round of talks will be held in Murree where, according to diplomatic sources, the two sides will confer on "core and much harder issues" in the ties — fighting terrorism and talking to "reconcilable Taliban", the Dawn reported. In his meetings with Sharif, Karzai had pitched for a joint campaign against extremism and sought his cooperation to jumpstart the troubled peace process with the Taliban.

Stating that both he and Sharif discussed all issues of mutual concern, Karzai said, "We discussed in this regard primarily and with emphasis the issue of joint fight against extremism and reconciliation in Afghanistan with the expectation that the Government of Pakistan will facilitate and help in manners it can to the peace process in Afghanistan and providing opportunities on all platforms for talks between Afghan High Peace Council and the Taliban movement."

Sharif on his part has promised to extend all possible facilitation. The Afghan President said the primary concern for both countries is the lack of security for their citizens and the continued menace of terrorism. "It is this area that needs to have primary focussed attention by both countries.

It is with hope on this that I have come to Pakistan and to advance efforts and action together so that we can have peace in Afghanistan and Pakistan," Karzai said. Karzai expects from the Pakistan government to release former Taliban number two Mullah Baradar and persuade the insurgent leadership to talk to the High Peace Council.

Afghanistan has long accused Pakistan of maintaining ties with the insurgent leadership, mostly based in this country. The longstanding mistrust between the two sides that got compounded by Kabul's tirade against Islamabad and the former's growing closeness with New Delhi is seen as the biggest obstruction in the way of any meaningful cooperation, the Dawn reported.


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