Sharif wants close ties with new Afghan govt

Published December 6, 2014
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif shaking hands with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at 10 Downing Street here on Friday.—INP
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif shaking hands with British Prime Minister David Cameron and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani at 10 Downing Street here on Friday.—INP

LONDON: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Friday that his country looked forward to forging cooperative relations with the Afghan national unity government because a stable, prosperous and democratic Afghanistan was in the interest of Pakistan.

He was speaking at a breakfast meeting with Bri­tish Prime Minister David Cameron. They discussed Pakistan-UK relations, the regional situation and other issues of mutual interest.

Mr Sharif appreciated UK’s assistance for Pakis­tan’s health, education and other sectors, and invited British entrepreneurs to invest in the energy sector.

Also read: Nawaz, Ghani visit 10 Downing Street to discuss regional situation

Prime Minister Cameron praised sacrifices rendered by Pakistan in the fight aga­inst terrorism and acknow­ledged that it had suffered more than any other country in the battle. He pledged his government’s support for Pakistan’s efforts to root out the menace of terrorism.

Later, the two leaders were joined by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

The three sides expressed resolve to work together for a stable, prosperous and peaceful Afghanistan which would have a salutary impact on the entire region.

They exchanged views on the regional situation, with particular reference to Afghanistan, against the backdrop of Thursday’ conference on Afghanistan, and reiterated commitments made there.

On Thursday, the United States, Britain and other allies promised not to abandon new Afghan government, responding to pleas by Kabul for continued support as international security forces wind down and Taliban attacks surge.

The conference was also attended by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Meawhile, German Chan­cellor Angela Merkel pled­ged on Friday to support Pre­sident Ghani and his govern­ment after Nato combat troops withdraw from Afgha­nistan at the end of more than a decade of fighting insurgents.

Chancellor Merkel said at a joint news conference with President Ghani in Berlin that Germany would also support Afghanistan in the longer term by training security forces and providing development aid.

“Germany has a respon­sibility, particularly for se­­c­u­­rity in northern Afgha­nis­tan,” she said, adding that bi­lateral economic ties were also becoming more important.

The German parliament voted earlier on Friday to keep 850 soldiers in Afghanistan in 2015 to train local forces, making Germany one of the biggest contributors after the US.

It also agreed to support Kabul with annual development aid worth 430 million euros ($529m), more than any other country.

Afghanistan is in talks with neighbouring countries including China on a regional agreement on peace and security, President Ghani said.

“That is all at an early stage. We are working on a detailed plan,” he added.

Last month China had proposed setting up a forum to restart stalled peace talks between Afghanistan and Taliban insurgents.

Documents seen by Reuters show that China put forward a proposal for a “peace and reconciliation forum” which Afghan officials said would gather representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the Taliban command.

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2014

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