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On the invitation of Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi, the Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, Mr. Zalmay Rassoul visited Islamabad on 27-28 January, 2011.

During his visit, Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul met President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani and held talks with Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi.

The visit of the Afghan Foreign Minister to Islamabad forms an integral part of the process of consultations between the two countries to take joint steps for further enhancing their bonds of fraternal cooperation in a comprehensive manner. It was agreed to take pragmatic steps to translate the sentiments of goodwill, love and affection between the peoples of the two countries into tangible cooperation for progress and development.

Both sides reaffirmed the importance they attach to implementing the new Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement and decided to establish a Joint Working Group, comprising of their respective Trade officials to meet in Islamabad in the near future. It was also agreed to establish a process of consultations between the respective authorities of the two countries to initiate and take required steps to enhance connectivity; upgrade rail and road links and build requisite infrastructure; improve communication facilities; advance the process of implementation of several socio-economic projects sponsored by Pakistan for development in Afghanistan, including schools, hospitals and other facilities.

The authorities of the two countries would also study the modalities for establishing a Joint Consultation, Coordination and Cooperation Mechanism with a view to devising Framework Agreements for cooperation in the fields of joint development especially in energy, agriculture, mines and minerals and for establishment of Vocational Training Centres and Special Industrial Zones to promote common development and shared prosperity.

Both sides agreed to establish a bilateral mechanism for cooperation and consultation between their respective authorities for mutual legal assistance, including the issue of prisoners and consular matters.

Both sides reaffirmed that abiding friendship, geographical proximity, shared culture and traditions provide a solid foundation for uniting their strengths and efforts to realize the aspirations of the two peoples for peace and prosperity. The two Foreign Ministers agreed that both Afghanistan and Pakistan will join hands in writing a new chapter in their bilateral relations.

Both sides agreed to make coordinated efforts for promoting peace, security, stability and prosperity for their peoples and in the region as a whole. It was agreed that both had suffered enormously from terrorism. Both sides expressed their firm determination to eliminate terrorism from the region and to enhance mutual cooperation to this end.

Pakistan supports the ongoing efforts of the Government of Afghanistan under the leadership of President Hamid Karzai for promoting reconciliation and peace and welcomed the establishment of the High Peace Council under the chairmanship of Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani. This process must be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led. Pakistan was prepared to extend assistance, as may be required, to facilitate and promote this process.

Both sides agreed on the creation and operationalization of a two-tiered joint body headed by Foreign Ministers and Deputy Foreign Minister/Foreign Secretary to support the peace and reconciliation process.

Both sides welcomed the Afghanistan-Pakistan-United States Trilateral Dialogue which will be held on 22-24 February 2011 in Washington D.C. and emphasized on a common approach towards priority areas.

Both sides agreed that it was of utmost importance that the international community as a whole and in particular immediate neighbours and regional states, respect the principles of sovereignty, political independence, territorial integrity and the principle of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.

Both sides emphasized the importance of promoting regional cooperation for development. In this context, they attached special significance to the early realization of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India Gas Pipeline as well as the establishment of electricity transmission lines from Central Asia over Afghanistan to Pakistan.

On behalf of President Hamid Karzai, Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul extended a cordial invitation to Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani to visit Afghanistan at his earliest convenience.

The Foreign Minister of Afghanistan also invited Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi to visit Kabul at his earliest convenience. The Foreign Minister accepted the invitation with pleasure.

27 January 2011

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