Karzai meets neighbours ahead of key London conference

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - 17:56

Istanbul: Afghan President Hamid Karzai
met officials from Pakistan and other neighbouring nations
here on Tuesday, amid efforts for a strategy to cajole insurgents
into laying down arms.

The Ankara meeting, also attended by British Foreign
Secretary David Miliband, preceded a major conference in
London on Thursday, where Karzai hopes to win Western support
for a plan to offer money and jobs to Taliban fighters
to encourage them to quit insurgency.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul hosted the gathering,
attended by Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and senior
officials from Iran, China, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan and
observers from the United States, Russia and international
organisations.

The participants were expected to issue a joint
declaration after the talks.

Turkey, NATO`s sole Muslim-majority member and a
partner in the multi-national force in Afghanistan, is keen to
drum up regional support for Karzai.

Ankara is stressing the need to step up efforts to
also help in Afghanistan`s social and economic development.

"There cannot be a more important strategy than
winning the minds and hearts of the Afghan people," a Turkish
government official said ahead of the meeting.

"Sometimes drilling a simple water well, for
instance, can be more valuable in the eyes of the people than
a costly project," he said.

Bureau Report



First Published: Tuesday, January 26, 2010 - 17:56

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