Pleased with ‘upward trajectory’ of Pakistan-Afghan relations: Sharif

Ufa (Russia), July 10 (IANS) Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani here on Friday and expressed satisfaction at the “upward trajectory” of Islamabad-Kabul relations, media reported.

The meeting, which took place on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit here, comes barely days after Pakistan brokered talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Islamabad, the Pakistani English daily Dawn reported.

The two leaders expressed satisfaction over the progress made in the July 7 talks which were held to promote peace and reconciliation process.

Ghani and Sharif exchanged views on how to carry forward the peace process. They also exchanged views on the efforts being made by the respective sides to counter terrorism and extremism.

President Ashraf Ghani appreciated Pakistan’s efforts and its role in facilitating peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, expressing the hope that these efforts would lead to lasting peace and stability in the country.

The Pakistani prime minister spoke of the need for both countries to persevere in overcoming challenges and building a cooperative relationship on “strong foundations”.

He reaffirmed Pakistan’s desire to build a positive and forward-looking relationship with Afghanistan.

Sharif also extended an invitation to President Ghani to jointly inaugurate the ministerial conference of the Heart of Asia process to be hosted by Pakistan in December 2015.

In efforts to foster a closer relationship, Afghanistan and Pakistan recently signed a landmark intelligence-sharing Memorandum of Operation.

The relationship between the two seemed tense as Afghan intelligence accused a Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence official of being involved in a brazen Taliban attack on the Afghan parliament on June 22.

Nearly a week after the information came to light, Afghan security forces in a cross-border attack wounded two security personnel in South Waziristan. However, earlier in June, Pakistani troops had, in an unprecedented cross-border “rescue operation”, evacuated an Afghan soldier who had been critically wounded in an exchange of fire with the Taliban.

Nawaz Sharif, in an earlier visit to Afghanistan this year, pledged support in the fight against the Taliban saying: “We agreed that peace and stability in the region will remain elusive until the menace of terrorism afflicting the region is comprehensively addressed.”

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