Ghani to visit Pakistan on December 9

Islamabad, Dec 1 (IANS) Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani is expected to visit Pakistan on December 9 on the occasion of Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process conference which is being jointly hosted by Islamabad and Kabul.

The two-day conference will be held on December 8-9 in Islamabad and will be attended by representatives from Azerbaijan, China, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Rus­sia, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Tur­key, Turkmenistan and the UAE, Dawn online reported.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, at a trilateral meeting with Ghani and British Prime Minister David Cameroon on the sidelines of the Summit on Climate Change in Paris, said: “A warm welcome awaits Ghani in Islamabad at the Heart of Asia Meeting on December 9.”

A diplomatic source said progress on the resumption of suspended Afghanistan reconciliation was expected during Ghani’s trip to Islamabad.

Ghani’s visit was earlier in doubt because of the strains in ties that followed the breakdown of the reconciliation dialogue in July between the Afghanistan government and Taliban, which was facilitated by Pakistan.

Disclosure about Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar’s death by Pakistan, two years after he died, led to the cancellation of the planned meeting. The subsequent rise in violence in Afghanistan added to the bilateral mistrust.

Ghani accused Pakistan of acting against his country’s interests and not doing enough to end terrorist bases on its soil from where attacks were being launched against Afghanistan.

Resumption of Pakistan-Afghanistan contacts took place after Islamabad and Washington agreed to work together for the revival of peace dialogue during army chief General Raheel Sharif’s visit to the US in November.

In an interaction with Ghani, Sharif “offered Pakistan’s good office to support an Afghanistan-led peace process,” according to a statement issued by the prime minister office.

The two leaders, it said, had an in-depth exchange on the peace process.

Dispelling Kabul’s concerns, Sharif said Islamabad was committed to working with Afghanistan as “an equal and sovereign state” and regarded its government as “the only legitimate and democratically elected partner.”

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