Dawn – Foreign Minister Qureshi, Afghan president discuss bilateral ties, regional security in Kabul

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Saturday reached Kabul to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other senior officials during his maiden trip to any country after assuming his new responsibilities.

Kabul – Kabul Province – Pakistan, 15 September 2018. In his one-on-one meeting with the Afghan president, bilateral relations as well as matters relating to regional peace and security were discussed, Radio Pakistan reported.

Qureshi also held delegation-level talks with the Afghan side during which a range of issues concerning bilateral relations came under discussion.

The foreign minister separately met his Afghan counterpart, Salahuddin Rabbani. Delegations of both sides were present during the meeting.

Qureshi was quoted as saying during the meeting that Pakistan and Afghanistan will have to make joint efforts to meet their challenges.

He stressed that there is a great potential to further bolster relations and cooperation between the two countries, according to Radio Pakistan.

In his remarks, the Afghan foreign minister said a peaceful environment in Pakistan and Afghanistan is vital for regional peace. He said his country desires cordial relations with all neighbouring countries, including Pakistan.

Earlier, Qureshi was received by Afghan military officials on his arrival in Kabul, according to a tweet by his party, the PTI.

“The talks are an important milestone in ushering an era of peace and regional stability and forming a partnership that will benefit both Pakistan and Afghanistan,” the tweet said.

Speaking to Dawn on Friday, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had said that Foreign Minister Qureshi’s day-long visit to Kabul aimed at improving coordination between the two countries.

“The main purpose of the foreign minister’s visit is to improve coordination on security-related issues between the two countries,” he added.

To underscore the importance of the trip, he said it would be Qureshi’s first visit to Kabul (after becoming foreign minister) and it showed that Afghanistan was on top of Pakistan’s foreign policy.

On September 3, Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani had phoned FM Qureshi to greet him on his appointment as foreign minister. He also extended him an invitation to visit Kabul.

Media reports earlier suggested that Qureshi would extend an invitation on behalf of Prime Minister Imran Khan to President Ghani to visit Pakistan.

Marked improvement in relations has been observed since Islamabad and Kabul agreed to operationalise the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS), the new bilateral ties framework that, according to the Foreign Office, provided the most comprehensive institutional mechanism to discuss all mutual issues.

During their phone conversation earlier this month, both Qureshi and his Afghan counterpart Rabbani agreed that the next round of APAPPS would soon be held in Islamabad.

Civil-military leadership discusses foreign policy, security challenges [bold]

Also on Friday, the country’s civil and military leadership sat together at PM Office to discuss foreign policy challenges.

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Inter-Services Intelligence director general Lt General Naveed Mukhtar, FM Qureshi, the foreign secretary and other senior officials were present at a high-level meeting chaired by PM Khan.

“Bilateral relations with certain friendly countries and issues relating to security came under discussion during the meeting,” said a brief statement issued after the meeting.

However, the information minister told Dawn that the meeting discussed issues related to foreign policy and security. “The participants also discussed the strategy for the future visits of some foreign dignitaries,” he added.

Moreover, he said, the army chief also briefed the meeting about his last visit to Kabul.

General Bajwa had travelled to Kabul in June and held a one-on-one meeting with Afghan President Ghani.


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