Pak, Afghanistan to set up bilateral mechanism to address border issues

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Islamabad, June 24: Pakistan and Afghanistan will set up a high-level bilateral mechanism to coordinate on security issues and amicably address border-related matters, officials said today, days after violent border clashes left casualties on both sides.

The decision was taken during a meeting between Pakistan Prime Minister's Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani on the sidelines of a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit in Tashkent.

 afghanistan

Afghan National Security Adviser Haneef Atmar was also present at the meeting. Pakistan and Aghanistan agreed to constitute a high-level bilateral mechanism for consultation and coordination on issues relating to bilateral relations and cooperation, including security, movement of people and vehicles between the two countries and other relevant issues, according to a joint statement issued after the meeting.

The proposed mechanism will be co-chaired by Aziz and Rabbani and with the participation of the National Security Advisers of the two countries. "It will also have a joint technical working group to deal with the concerns of both countries," the statement said.

The main purpose of this mechanism would be not only to address and resolve issues concerning the two countries amicably but also to prevent recurrence of violent incidents like the ones witnessed recently in Torkham, it said.

The Torkham border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan was closed due to clashes between the two sides in which a Pakistan army Major and an Afghan border guard were killed earlier this month.

The clash had started when Pakistan refused to stop construction of a security gate to stop illegal crossings. Torkham is one of the busiest of the eight established crossing points on the 2,500-kilometre-long porous border between the two countries, which is used by some 25,000 travellers every day.

The two countries also took this opportunity to review other aspects of bilateral ties and reaffirmed respect for each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity and adherence to the principle of non-interference into each other's internal affairs.

Aziz and Rabbani reiterated their desire for strengthening bilateral relations for promoting peace, stability, counter terrorism and economic progress of both the countries.

The two sides specifically expressed their firm commitment to continue serious efforts towards eliminating the scourge of terrorism which poses a grave threat to the peace and security of the two countries, and the region.

They also stressed the need for continuing joint efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan through timely and concrete actions resulting in tangible outcomes, including in the framework of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group process - involving Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the US.

PTI 

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