KABUL: Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to extend the scope of their transit trade agreement to include Tajikistan as part of the overall effort to promote regional economic cooperation.
A joint statement, issued simultaneously from Kabul and Islamabad at the culmination of talks between Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and President Hamid Karzai, said the two sides emphasised the importance of early finalisation of the establishment of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project.
They also stressed speedy implementation of the CASA-1000 power transmission line, and enhancing connectivity and upgrading rail and road infrastructure between the two countries.
During the talks at the Presidential Palace, both the sides stressed the need to work together in various fields of security, development, transit, trade, economic and investment linkages, mining, infrastructure and energy connectivity and people to people contacts.
The joint statement said both the sides reiterated their shared vision to advance regional peace and stability and reaffirmed their strong commitment to eliminate the scourge of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
The two leaders discussed the Afghan peace process in great depth and vowed to work together towards an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process involving the Taliban, Hezb-e-Islami and other armed opposition groups.
Prime Minister Ashraf and President Karzai expressed desire and determination of the Afghan people to end violence and bring lasting peace to their country, as affirmed in the Peace Jirga of July 2010 and the Traditional Loya Jirga of November 2011. They were of the view that these must be complemented by result-oriented regional and international cooperation. In this context, both the sides expressed the hope that Pakistan’s support to the Afghan peace process would contribute to durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.
The Afghan side welcomed and expressed appreciation for the steps being taken by Pakistan in support of the Afghan peace process, including the public call on the Afghan armed opposition groups to participate in the reconciliation process. The Pakistani side reaffirmed its support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned inclusive peace process, and underlined its determination to redouble efforts in facilitating direct intra-Afghan contacts and negotiations.
The two sides expressed the resolve to implement additional concrete steps to advance Afghan peace and reconciliation. They also agreed to facilitate a conducive environment for the peace and reconciliation process to move forward. The leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan also recognised the importance of pursuing multiple channels of communication and contact with the Afghan Taliban and other armed opposition groups.
They emphasised upon international support for Afghan peace process and, in particular, welcomed the efforts of Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other countries.