Istanbul: Turkey hosted the presidents of
Afghanistan and Pakistan on Tuesday for a trilateral summit
designed to reduce tensions and promote cooperation between
the two neighbours amid stepped-up Taliban attacks.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul held separate talks with
Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan
in an ancient Ottoman palace overlooking the Bosphorus before
the three-way talks later Tuesday.
The meeting ahead of an international conference on
Afghanistan on Wednesday in Turkey is the first between the
two neighbours since the assassination of the former Afghan
leader and peace negotiator Burhanuddin Rabbani on September
Kabul has accused Islamabad of refusing to cooperate in
the investigation of the murder, which according to Afghan
authorities, was planned in Pakistan and committed by a
Pakistani suicide bomber.
"The regional environment is deteriorating. We will try to
resolve differences and play a facilitator role to address the
mistrust between Afghanistan and Pakistan," said a Turkish
diplomatic source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
He added that all countries in the region have a duty to
work for peace in Afghanistan.
The meeting comes just days after 17 people died in the
deadliest attack yet in Kabul against the US-led NATO mission,
including 10 Americans, and three days after a US-run base in
Kandahar was targeted.
The three presidents will also discuss their fight against
the Islamist insurgency and sign agreements enshrining their
commitment to cooperate in the field of security, according to
the same source.
The meeting is the sixth in Turkey, a NATO member, since
the regular consultation mechanism was established in 2007 to
encourage both countries to cooperate against extremism.
The previous meetings between the two countries`
presidents, military leaders and intelligence chiefs resulted
in the parties` commitment to improve cooperation.
Later today, the three presidents will sign two agreements
on security cooperation, including a military one, said the
Turkish source, adding that the deals will forge cross-border
cooperation against terrorism.
Kabul, like the US, has said Islamabad is not doing enough
against the Taliban and al-Qaeda which have found refuge in
the Pakistani tribal areas bordering Afghanistan and regularly
carried out attacks against the Afghan, US and NATO forces in
The trilateral summit will be followed by an international
conference Wednesday in Istanbul on the theme "Security and
Cooperation in the heart of Asia." Twenty countries and
organisations are expected to attend the Istanbul event.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton changed her plans
and cancelled her visit to Istanbul at the last minute to stay
with her ailing mother.
In Istanbul, the Afghan president is expected to
officially announce the new sites that are to transition from
NATO to Afghan control. In July, he announced the first seven
areas to begin the transition process.
The process must be completed by the end of 2014, when the
coalition forces are due to withdraw its combat troops.