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Asia-pacific

Karzai calls on neighbours in fight against terrorism

Video by FRANCE 24

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-11-02

Afghan President Hamid Karzai called on his neighbours, particularly Pakistan, at a conference in Istanbul Wednesday for help in combating ‘terror groups’. Over a dozen countries agreed to cooperate in bringing security and stability to Afghanistan.

AFP - Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned Wednesday there would be no hope for peace in his war-ravaged nation without help from its neighbours, particularly Pakistan, to combat "terror groups".

Karzai was speaking at a one-day conference in Istanbul where more than a dozen nations -- including key neighbours Pakistan and Iran -- signed up to a deal to cooperate in bringing security and stability to Afghanistan.

"Terrorist networks are by far the major threat to Afghanistan's security," Karzai said at the talks aimed at mapping out his country's future after the departure of Western troops in 2014.

"They continue to have sanctuaries outside of our border from where they conduct their merciless campaign of destruction," he said. "Unless regional cooperation is assured to address the core and root of this issue peace in Afghanistan will remain elusive."

Wednesday's talks, held almost 10 years after the Taliban militia were driven out of power in Kabul by a US-led coalition, brought together representatives from some two dozen countries as well as international organisations such as NATO, the EU and the United Nations.

A decade on, the hardline Islamists remain a deadly force in Afghanistan, continuing to wage attacks against Afghan, US and NATO forces and Kabul's efforts to bring the Taliban into peace talks have so far been in vain.

Kabul, like Washington, has complained that Islamabad is not doing enough against the Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants who have found refuge in Pakistani tribal areas on the Afghan border.

"When it comes to terrorism, a threat that targets not only Afghanistan, but other countries in the region and the world, we require the sincere, result-oriented cooperation of all of our neighbours... and particularly the Islamic Republic of Pakistan," Afghan foreign ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai told AFP.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced that 13 countries had signed up to a package of "confidence-building measures" for cooperation in fields including security, reconstruction and health and the fight against "terrorism" and drug trafficking.

"This is the commitment of regional and international actors to work together and rebuild Afghanistan until peace and stability prevails," Davutoglu said at a press conference with Afghan counterpart Zalmai Rassoul.

The signatories included Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, according to a conference statement.

Another 13 nations, including major Western powers led by the United States, as well as international organisations such as the United Nations, the European Union and NATO declared their support for the initiative.

The regional players also vowed to "respect Afghanistan's sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity," the statement said.

The Istanbul talks were intended to chart the way ahead for Afghanistan, with the US-led NATO mission already locked into military drawdowns that are scheduled to bring all foreign combat troops home by 2014.

The conference was held a day after a trilateral summit hosted by Gul brought together the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan in a bid to ease tensions between the two neighbours.

Tuesday's talks saw Afghanistan and Pakistan agree to cooperate with an investigation into the September assassination of former Afghan leader and peace negotiator Burhanuddin Rabbani.

Kabul has accused Islamabad of refusing to cooperate in the probe of the murder, which Afghan authorities say was planned in Pakistan and committed by a Pakistani suicide bomber.

Pakistan was the Taliban's chief diplomatic backer when it was in power and is repeatedly accused by both Kabul and Washington of attempting to destabilise its northern neighbour.

The Taliban's resilience was again underlined on Saturday when it killed at least 17 people in a car bomb attack on a NATO convoy in Kabul, the deadliest attack yet on international forces in the Afghan capital.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was absent from Istanbul following the death of her mother, has said Washington is now pursuing a three-pronged strategy of "fight, talk, build".

But with the Taliban still mounting high-profile attacks, there has been little public evidence of their willingness to talk.

The United States provides more than two-thirds of a total of 140,000 foreign troops currently in Afghanistan.

The next meeting at foreign minister level on Afghanistan's future is due to take place in Kabul in June 2012, the Turkish and Afghan ministers said.

Date created : 2011-11-02

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