Istanbul: The leaders of Afghanistan and
Pakistan were to meet here under Turkish auspices on Friday for
talks aimed at bringing the troubled neighbours closer.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul was to host the meeting
between his counterparts, Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Asif
Ali Zardari of Pakistan, at an Ottoman palace on the banks of
It will be the fifth such meeting since 2007 when
Turkey, NATO`s sole Muslim-majority member, launched the
initiative to push Afghanistan and Pakistan to enhance
cooperation against Islamist insurgents and improve ties
poisoned by the insecurity plaguing their rugged border.
The leaders were to review the results of a recent
meeting between the intelligence chiefs of the three
countries, Turkish officials said ahead of the talks.
They were also expected to agree initiatives aimed at
boosting contacts between their security forces and
cooperation against drug-trafficking, they said.
The three countries` interior and foreign ministers as
well as their trade chambers were scheduled to hold separate
rounds of talks.
Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been
plagued by mutual suspicion, although bilateral ties have
Taliban insurgents fighting against the Western-backed
government in Kabul have rear bases in Pakistan, where Afghan
and US officials say their leaders enjoy at least some measure
of protection from Pakistan.
Islamabad flatly denies any collusion and says more
than 2,420 of its soldiers have been killed fighting Islamist
militants since 2002.
Yesterday, Karzai and Zerdari attended a summit of the
Economic Cooperation Organisation, a 10-member regional
grouping aimed at boosting trade links, which includes also
Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkey and Central Asian states.