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Asia-pacific

Karzai, Zardari to hold talks in Turkey

Latest update : 2009-04-01

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is holding talks with his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari on border security and stronger cooperation between the two countries to fight Islamist extremism in the region.

AFP - Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari arrived here Tuesday for Turkish-sponsored talks with Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai on boosting cooperation against Islamist extremists, a Pakistani diplomat said.
  
The trilateral meeting -- the third round of fence-mending talks between the two troubled neighbours in Turkey since 2007 -- will be held Wednesday, chaired by Turkish President Abdullah Gul.
  
Karzai was expected to arrive late Tuesday from The Hague where he has been attending an international conference on stabilising his insurgency-hit nation.
  
The talks will also be attended by foreign ministers, army chiefs and intelligence chiefs from the three countries, a Turkish diplomat said on condition of anonymity.
  
Afghanistan says much of its insurgent violence is planned in Pakistan, and, along with the United States, has accused its neighbour of not doing enough to stop militants crossing the border.
  
Pakistan rejects those accusations and says more than 1,500 of its troops have been killed at the hands of Islamist extremists since 2002.
  
Pakistan's northwestern tribal regions have become a safe haven for extremists who fled Afghanistan after the US-led invasion toppled the hardline Taliban regime in late 2001.
  
Drawing on its traditionally close ties with both Afghanistan and Pakistan, Turkey, the sole mainly Muslim member of NATO, is seeking to encourage and consolidate the recently improved relations between the two.
  
Turkey shares the view of the United States and several other western powers that peace in Afghanistan hinges on combining the battle against extremists with reconstruction and development efforts, the Turkish diplomat said.
  
Last week, US President Barack Obama unveiled a new Afghan war plan in which he vowed to defeat Al-Qaeda and put Pakistan at the centre of the war against Osama bin Laden's network.
  
The talks in Turkey come after the United States and Iran found common cause Tuesday in battling Afghanistan's drugs trade and rebuilding the war-torn nation.
  
Tehran, however, warned its old foe that the planned troop surge would not bring security.

Date created : 2009-04-01

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