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At the invitation of President Hamid Karzai, Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif will be visiting Afghanistan on 30 November 2013.

Earlier, President Hamid Karzai had visited Pakistan on 26-27 August 2013, at the invitation of the Prime Minister. The two leaders also met at the Trilateral Summit in London on 29 October 2013.

The Prime Minister’s visit is taking place at a time when important political and security transitions are underway in Afghanistan, marked by forthcoming elections and NATO/ISAF troop drawdown during 2014.

As part of his vision of a peaceful and prosperous neighbourhood, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has stressed the importance of close, cooperative relations with all of Pakistan’s neighbours. The Prime Minister’s visit to Afghanistan reinforces efforts in that direction.

The two leaders will hold in-depth consultations on all issues of common interest, including the evolving situation in the region and ways to further deepen and broaden Pakistan-Afghanistan bilateral relations in all dimensions. The Prime Minister will also meet a delegation of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, led by its Chairman Salahuddin Rabbani.

Pakistan and Afghanistan are bound in an abiding relationship, based on common faith, ties of kinship, and shared culture and history. The two countries have faced common challenges in the past and stood by each other in times of need. Pakistan continues to host millions of Afghan refugees.

Peace and stability in Afghanistan are in Pakistan’s vital interest. Pakistan has extended consistent support for the promotion of Afghan peace and reconciliation process. It remains committed to working with Afghanistan as well as international partners for sustainable peace and development in Afghanistan.

On the bilateral plane, the Prime Minister has emphasized that Pakistan-Afghanistan relations should be underpinned by a strong trade and economic partnership. Bilateral trade has witnessed an impressive growth in recent years and reached US $2.44 billion in 2012. It has the potential to grow further in the coming years. Pakistan’s major exports include rice, petroleum products, animal and vegetable fats and oils, dairy products, construction material, plastic articles, fruits and vegetables, wooden products, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and electrical machines. Major imports from Afghanistan are vegetables, fruits, raw cotton, carpets and rugs, and hides and skins.
The Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) facilitates Afghanistan’s access to foreign markets through Pakistani sea-ports and land routes. The two sides are also engaged in efforts for optimal utilization of APTTA and considering its extension to Central Asia.

Pakistan has been extending bilateral assistance to Afghanistan, with major projects in infrastructure, health and education sectors, in order to contribute to Afghanistan’s reconstruction and socio-economic development. Both sides are also working on a broad range of road, rail and connectivity projects as well as collaboration in the energy sector. Pakistan has also offered US $ 20 million for training of Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

Educational and people-to-people contacts have been growing significantly. Over 7,000 Afghan students are currently studying in Pakistan, including 2,000 on fully-funded scholarships offered by Pakistan. More than 30,000 Afghan graduates from Pakistani institutions are now contributing to Afghanistan’s national development efforts.

In the regional context, there is a growing emphasis on enhanced economic cooperation. The two countries are participating in major trans-regional initiatives namely Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline and Central-South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA-1000).

The Prime Minister’s visit to Afghanistan would strengthen the positive momentum in bilateral relations and help intensify common endeavours in the pursuit of durable peace, stability and prosperity in the region.

29 November 2013

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