`Pakistan supports Afghan peace, reconciliation efforts`

Days ahead of Afghan President Hamid Karzai`s visit here, Pakistan today said it would take all steps that would boost peace and reconciliation efforts in the war-torn country.

Islamabad: Days ahead of Afghan President Hamid Karzai`s visit here, Pakistan today said it would take all steps that would boost peace and reconciliation efforts in the war-torn country.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry`s remarks came amid reports that Pakistan is likely to release Mullah Baradar, a top Afghan Taliban commander who was arrested in Karachi in 2010.

"The government of Pakistan would continue to extend its support for the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. In that regard, whatever steps that we deem are helpful will be taken," Chaudhry said.

He was responding to a query at a weekly news briefing on Baradar`s release during the visit of Karzai and about the number of Taliban prisoners in Pakistani jails.

While final dates have not been announced as yet, official sources said Karzai is likely to visit Pakistan on August 26.

Referring to the visit, Chaudhry said the summit level interaction will provide an opportunity to the leadership of the two countries to carry forward the process of constructive bilateral engagement.

"The two sides will work together to promote the shared objectives of peace and security in our region. Matters relating to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, bilateral relations and the regional situation will be the focus of discussions during the visit," he said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in his first address to the nation on Monday, said Pakistan supports an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

The situation in Afghanistan was also discussed during today`s meeting of the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) chaired by Sharif.

The DCC emphasised that a peaceful, stable and united Afghanistan was in Pakistan`s vital interest and would contribute positively to peace, security and prosperity in the region.

Afghanistan has become one of the points of focus of Pakistan`s foreign policy ahead of the exit of US-led NATO troops from the war-torn country by next year.

PTI

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