ANKARA, Dec 12: The leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan were determined to press ahead with peace efforts after a meeting in Turkey, the country’s president said on Wednesday, despite an attack that wounded the Afghan intelligence chief. 

President Abdullah Gul described the bombing, which Afghanistan believes was planned in Pakistan, as an attempt to derail dialogue between the two countries.

At the end of a meeting aimed at easing tensions and increasing cooperation between the governments in Kabul and Islamabad, Mr Gul said both had “renewed trust and are determined to work together”.

He was flanked by counterparts Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan.

Afghan intelligence chief Asadullah Khalid was seriously injured last week when a suicide bomber posing as a Taliban peace envoy detonated an explosive.

Mr Karzai has said the attack was planned in Pakistan, but stopped short of directly holding Islamabad responsible for the explosion that was claimed by the Taliban.

Mr Karzai said on Wednesday the two leaders had “very good conversations” about the assassination attempt, but refused to go into details.

“Hopefully the fight against extremism and terrorism will take itself to a conclusion where the populations of the two countries are not threatened by these attacks,” he said.

“The environment of dialogue is better than it has been,” the Afghan president said. “At the same time, we are seeing unfortunate incidents of terrorism both in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Mr Zardari distanced Pakistan from the attack on Mr Khalid.

“They (terrorists) don’t want us, the governments, to get together and to be able to lead the nations to peace,” he said. “It is in the interest of Pakistan that Afghanistan prospers. It is in my interest that peace returns to Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

A joint statement issued at the end of the meeting said a “joint working group” would address the attempt on the intelligence chief’s life.

Pakistan is seen as a key player in the Afghan peace process.

TRILATERAL MoU: A Trilateral Memorandum of Understanding was signed on Wednesday among the governments of Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan to promote and facilitate trade and economic cooperation among the three countries.

The MoU, signed during the trilateral summit at Ankara, provides for the establishment of Trilateral Trade Council, which would work for promotion of foreign investment, enhancing and diversifying commercial ties and exploring possibilities for cooperation in the services sectors among the three countries.

The MoU will also facilitate the exchange of information, particularly concerning their respective legislation on trade and economic activities.

The Trilateral Trade Council will be convened annually or when the parties deem it necessary more often, alternately in Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan.—Agencies

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