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Pakistan PM in Afghanistan as Tensions Mount Over Border Dispute


Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai says he is not satisfied with Islamabad's efforts to contain militants along their border. From Islamabad, VOA correspondent Benjamin Sand reports Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz was in Kabul for talks on border security.

The talks occurred as cross-border relations continue to deteriorate.

U.S. and Afghan officials claim pro-Taleban insurgents have established several bases in Pakistan that are used to mount raids in Afghanistan. Pakistan insists it is doing everything it can to help improve regional security.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai spent several hours discussing bilateral ties with Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.

Speaking to reporters in Kabul afterward, President Karzai strongly criticized Pakistan's plan to fence and mine the border. He says the plan will do little to contain the insurgency.

"We do not believe laying mines on the border will end terrorism," he said. "… We have said let us work against places where training for terrorism is taking place, where funding is taking place, where supplies are given to them."

The president also called for greater cooperation on a proposed cross-border jirga, or tribal council. He says that Afghanistan is "not satisfied" with Islamabad's effort to help arrange the meeting.

Prime Minister Aziz struck a more conciliatory tone, but he insisted Pakistan would continue reviewing its plans to mine portions of the border. He highlighted a series of diplomatic initiatives meant to improve relations and underscore Islamabad's commitment to Afghanistan's welfare.

He said a new committee will be established to consider the proposed jirga. Pakistan also will add $50 million to its aid package for Afghanistan.

Mr. Aziz said the two countries share a common future and should work together to resolve their common challenges.

"It serves Pakistan to see a strong, stable and vibrant Afghanistan," he said. "If there is any country in the world which benefits from your success it is Pakistan."

2006 was the deadliest year in Afghanistan since U.S. led forces ousted the hard-line Islamist Taleban government in 2001.

More than 4,000 people were killed last year, with most of the violence occurring in provinces sharing a border with Pakistan.

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