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Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Mr. Sartaj Aziz paid a day-long visit to Afghanistan on 21 July 2013. The Adviser was accompanied by Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani and other senior Foreign Ministry officials. In Kabul, he was assisted by Ambassador Mohammad Sadiq.

During the visit, the Adviser called on President Hamid Karzai, who hosted him and the accompanying delegation for an Iftar dinner. The Adviser also had separate meetings with Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul and Commerce and Industries Minister Anwar-ul-Haq Ahadi. He also addressed a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Rassoul. The Chairman of the High Peace Council (HPC) Salahuddin Rabbani called on the Adviser along with an HPC delegation.

The meetings were held in a warm and cordial atmosphere. The Adviser conveyed a message of cordiality and goodwill from the leadership and people of Pakistan and underscored Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s commitment to strengthen Pakistan’s fraternal ties with the Afghan people. He also underlined the new government’s resolve to further deepen and broaden the Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relationship in all fields. The Adviser stressed that bilateral relations must be underpinned by a strong trade and economic relationship. He further underscored that the two countries must work together to strengthen links with Central Asia, including through trade and mutually-beneficial energy projects, that would reinforce regional cooperation and promote common prosperity.

The Afghan side fully reciprocated the desire to further deepen the bilateral relationship, with a particular focus on expanded trade and economic cooperation. Both sides inter aliaagreed to hold the next meeting of the Coordinating Authority established under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) as early as possible to address matters related to transit trade. It was also agreed that the Afghan Commerce Minister would visit Pakistan at the earliest opportunity to further advance the trade agenda. There was convergence of views on strengthening links with Central Asian Republics. The Afghan side also expressed gratitude on behalf of the Afghan people for hosting millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan over a long time.

The Adviser conveyed to his Afghan interlocutors that a peaceful, stable and united Afghanistan is in the vital interest of Pakistan. He emphasized Pakistan’s steadfast commitment to support the peace and reconciliation process, which should be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led. In this regard, Pakistan will continue to play a facilitating role.

The Adviser conveyed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s sincere desire to work with President Karzai for the furtherance of shared objectives of peace and stability in Afghanistan and of strengthening the bilateral relationship in all its dimensions. The Adviser also handed over the Prime Minister’s formal invitation to President Karzai to visit Pakistan for a summit-level meeting.

President Karzai warmly reciprocated the Prime Minister’s sentiments and fondly recalled their mutual interaction in the past. He added that, with the assumption of office by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, a valuable opportunity had come forth to consolidate and further strengthen the brotherly ties between the two countries. President Karzai accepted the Prime Minister’s invitation. The visit will take place on mutually-convenient dates. The two sides discussed preparations for the summit meeting between the two leaders.

This was the first high-level visit exchanged between the two countries since the installation of the new government in June 2013 and illustrated the importance Pakistan attaches to a close, cooperative relationship with Afghanistan. This is also part of the Prime Minister’s vision to build a peaceful external environment that would enable Pakistan to pursue its economic priorities and development goals.

22 July 2013

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