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At the invitation of Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai, President Mamnoon Hussain visited Kabul today (27 March) to participate in the Nawroz Festival. The President was accompanied by the Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage and senior officials. On arrival, the President was accorded a warm welcome and was received by Mr. Younus Qanooni, the First Vice President of Afghanistan, the Foreign Minister, and other high-ranking Afghan officials.

Leaders from other countries in the region, including the Presidents of Iran and Tajikistan, also attended the Nawroz celebrations.

Addressing the Nawroz Festival International Conference, President Mamnoon Hussain extended warm felicitations to the more than 300 million people celebrating Nawroz around the world. He highlighted the importance of culture as a powerful medium to bring people closer, foster deeper understanding, and promote peace and harmony. The President underlined that the people of the region not only had a shared cultural heritage but also a common aspiration for a prosperous future. Noting that peace and stability were the most important pre-requisites for development, the President stressed that cooperative approaches to build peace and security were indispensible.

Later, the President had a bilateral meeting with President Karzai, during which the two leaders exchanged views on matters of common interest including bilateral relations, regional issues, and enhanced cooperation among Islamic countries. The President extended best wishes for successful Afghan elections and reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for the Afghan peace process. The two Presidents agreed that terrorism and extremism posed a common threat and it was important to work together to effectively combat this menace. They further emphasized that the two countries must continue to strengthen mutual cooperation so that their vast potential for progress and prosperity could be optimally realized.

On the sidelines of the Nawroz Festival, the Quadrilateral Summit of the Presidents of Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and Tajikistan was held. During the Summit, President Mamnoon shared Pakistan’s perspective on issues relating to peace and security and underscored the possibilities of regional cooperation in diverse fields including trade, communications, infrastructure and energy. The President also wished Afghanistan well on its security, political and economic transitions. He reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for an inclusive, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process, stressing that “the road to sustainable peace in Afghanistan lies only through peaceful dialogue.”

The Quadrilateral Summit adopted a Joint Statement which inter alia emphasizes the importance of regional peace and stability, counter-terrorism cooperation, inclusive and transparent elections in Afghanistan, promotion of Afghan reconciliation process, and constructive regional cooperation as an effective means to peace, stability and social and economic development. The statement also emphasizes the importance of timely and sustainable return of Afghan refugees and the need for continued supportive role of the international community in this regard.

This was the President’s first visit to Afghanistan since assuming office last year and helped carry forward the process of positive engagement at the highest level between the two countries. It contributed to ongoing efforts to build a multi-dimensional bilateral relationship and strengthen regional cooperation for peace and development.

27 March 2014

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