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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