US Secretary of State John Kerry, left, escorts Afghan President Hamid Karzai, right, and Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Asfhaq Parvez Kayani, second from left, into a meeting on April 24, 2013, in Brussels, Belgium. —AFP Photo

BRUSSELS: Pakistan’s Army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani was in Brussels Wednesday to meet Afghan president Hamid Karzai and US Secretary of State John Kerry for talks over the Afghan peace process as Nato prepares to withdraw its troops next year.

The Army chief was accompanied by Foreign Secretary Jalil Jilani.

Talks between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani officials were productive but any progress will be measured in results, US Secretary of State John Kerry said.

“We had a very extensive and, I think everybody would agree, productive and constructive dialogue … but we have all agreed that results are what will tell the story, not statements at press conferences,” Kerry told reporters after hosting the talks with Karzai and the army chief and Foreign Secretary Jilani.

Kerry, who hosted the talks with the aim of calming tensions over border disputes and the stalled peace process, hoped negotiations would be productive and fruitful.

Earlier on, Kerry told reporters at the start of the meeting at the residence of the US ambassador to Nato on the outskirts of the Belgian capital, that Afghanistan was in “a critical transformational period”.

“(I am) very, very pleased the president could travel, General Kayani and Secretary Jilani could take the time to be here,” he said. “We are very, very hopeful for a productive series of discussions.”

Karzai called it an important meeting and said he was glad Kayani and Jilani had found the time to travel to Brussels.

“Let’s hope forward for the best,” he told reporters.

Jilani called it a very important meeting, adding: “We are looking forward to a very productive and forward-looking discussion.”

The talks come after a day after a gathering of Nato foreign ministers in Brussels at which Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Pakistan must crack down on militants who use the country as a sanctuary to launch attacks in Afghanistan.

The meeting follows weeks of tension with Pakistan over their 2,600-km border and stalled peace efforts.

Afghan officials allege Pakistan has a long history of supporting Afghanistan’s Taliban and other insurgent factions.

Pakistan has in turn accused Afghanistan of giving safe haven to militants on the Afghan side of the border.

US officials hope that Kerry, who has a good relationship with Karzai, can bring the parties back to the negotiating table and make constructive progress on an issue that has long-term security implications for Washington.

Rasmussen held talks with Karzai at Nato headquarters on Tuesday which he said focused on the legal framework for Nato’s presence in Afghanistan after 2014.

Nato-led forces are expected to cede the lead role for security in Afghanistan this spring to Afghan soldiers, 12 years after the United States invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban government harbouring Osama bin Laden, the al Qaeda leader.

The White House has yet to decide how many US troops will remain in Afghanistan after 2014. Much depends on progress in negotiations with Karzai on a Bilateral Security Agreement to define the future legal status of US forces.

Published Apr 24, 2013 06:12pm

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