Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will visit Afghanistan on Saturday for talks with President Hamid Karzai on the evolving situation in the region and bilateral cooperation.
The visit comes at a time when Afghanistan is preparing for crucial presidential polls and the drawdown of US and foreign forces next year. Pakistan has been jockeying for a greater role in Kabul`s troubled peace process with the Taliban.
Sharif`s trip "is taking place at a time when important political and security transitions are underway in Afghanistan", said a statement from the Foreign Office.
"As part of his vision of a peaceful and prosperous neighbourhood, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has stressed the importance of close, cooperative relations with all of Pakistan`s neighbours. The Prime Minister’s visit to Afghanistan reinforces efforts in that direction," it said.
Sharif and Karzai will hold "in-depth consultations on all issues of common interest, including the evolving situation in the region" and ways to broaden bilateral relations.
The premier will also meet a delegation of the Afghan High Peace Council led by its Chairman Salahuddin Rabbani.
Pakistan has freed over 35 Afghan Taliban commanders to boost the peace process in Afghanistan but analysts say the move has not produced the expected results.
Sharif`s visit comes a week after a delegation from the High Peace Council, mandated for holding talks with the Taliban, visited Islamabad.
Bilateral trade has grown in recent years to touch USD 2.44 billion last year. Pakistan has also offered USD 20 million for training Afghan security forces.