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Karzai agrees to visit Islamabad

Karzai agrees to visit Islamabad

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is expected to visit Pakistan on Aug 26 to rebuild Kabul’s frayed ties with Islamabad and for talks on resuscitating the peace process with the Taliban.

A source in the Afghan presidency told Dawn that Mr Karzai would travel to Pakistan on Aug 26.

Afghan Foreign Ministry Spokesman Janan Musazai, at a briefing in Kabul, said a comprehensive agenda was being worked out for President Karzai.

Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz delivered the invitation to Mr Karzai to visit Pakistan, when he visited Kabul last month.

This would be Mr Karzai’s first trip to Pakistan in almost a year and a half.

He spoke to both President Asif Zardari and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to exchange Eid greetings.

His conversation with Mr Sharif indicated his preferred subjects for talks. He was quoted by Afghan officials as having sought “practical and sincere” cooperation in fighting terrorism.

Discussions on reviving the peace process with the Taliban would be another feature of Mr Karzai’s agenda.

All stakeholders, including the Taliban, have expressed interest in getting past the fracas over the name of the Doha office and raising the flag that led to closure of the militants’ office. There are indications that the political office will be relocated to some other country. Kabul has indicated its preferences – Turkey or Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan first helped the Taliban open the Doha office and is now being pressured to play its part in coaxing them back into talks.

Mr Karzai will also discuss economic cooperation and the issue of Afghan refugees.

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