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A 25-member delegation of the High Council for Peace in Afghanistan, led by its Chairman, Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, met with the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Nawabzada Malik Amad Khan today. The delegation is visiting Pakistan at the invitation of Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani. The invitation was extended to Professor Rabbani during the Prime Minister’s visit to Afghanistan on 4-5 December 2010.

The delegation was originally scheduled to meet Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi who had to leave for Lahore to attend the funeral of the late Governor of the Punjab Salman Taseer.

Extending Warm welcome to Professor Rabbani and members of his delegation, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs said that relations between the two brotherly countries had come a long way, especially in the last two years. There was complete harmony of views between the two countries. Ties were expanding in all areas to their mutual benefit. Implementation of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement would bolster bilateral commercial ties. The Minister of State underlined that the destinies of Pakistan and Afghanistan were intertwined. He wished success to the High Peace Council in its efforts towards promoting peace in Afghanistan and assured Pakistan’s full support to Afghanistan-driven efforts in this regard.

The Minister of State underscored that Pakistan was actively participating in the reconstruction and development of Afghanistan. The fact that Pakistan continued to host close to 3 million Afghan refugees was reflective of our historical ties, as well as the bonds of friendship that existed between our two peoples for centuries. He said Pakistan strongly believed in the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan and was committed to help Afghanistan build its institutions with the view to facilitating the transition process.

Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani, expressing strong sentiments of friendship and brotherhood toward Pakistan, stated that Afghanistan and Pakistan were brothers and neighbours. The two countries had opened a new chapter in their friendly relations. The people of Afghanistan could never forget the valuable support which Pakistan had extended against the foreign occupation in the 80’s including looking after 5 million Afghan refugees on its soil.

Professor Rabbani appreciated Pakistan’s policy of non-interference and non- intervention. He said Pakistan was the most important country for Afghanistan. It was, therefore, important that the two countries continued to work together in order to promote peace and stability in the region. He added that there were countless opportunities for Afghanistan-Pakistan cooperation at all levels and in all spheres.

Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, who also attended the meeting, stressed that the situation was very complex both at the regional and global levels. It was important that Afghanistan’s neighbours and all countries of the region recommitted themselves to respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as adhered to the principles of non-interference and non-intervention. He assured the delegation that Pakistan would continue supporting Afghanistan as a sincere brotherly country.

The two sides agreed to reconvene the Joint Peace Jirga as soon as possible.

At the beginning of the meeting, the two sides offered “Fateha” for the departed soul of the late Governor of the Punjab.

05 January 2011

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