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Karzai Wraps Up Trip to Pakistan With Renewed Assurances - 2003-04-23


Afghan President Hamid Karzai has ended a visit to Islamabad, after talking with Pakistan leaders on ways to root out terrorism in Afghanistan, and improve bilateral economic ties.

President Hamid Karzai said that Pakistani leaders have assured him of their full support in rebuilding a peaceful Afghanistan. "We discussed our joint struggle against terrorism and the extreme importance of fighting it to their total defeat and elimination in the interest of the people of the two countries, for the safety and security of the people of the two countries. And today once again I noticed that there is tremendous willingness in Pakistan for a stronger relationship," Mr. Karzai said.

President Karzai made his visit to Pakistan following allegations that Taleban fugitives are launching anti-government attacks in Afghanistan from bases in Pakistan. At the end of the two-day visit on Wednesday, he said he will give Pakistan officials a list of suspected Afghan terrorists, in an effort to hunt down those who may be hiding along the border of the two countries.

After meeting with Mr. Karzai late Tuesday, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said his country remains committed to cooperating with Afghanistan politically and economically.

"We in Pakistan greatly appreciate the positive developments in Afghanistan over the last year. Raising the Afghan national army and police, and setting up a judicial commission and the process of formation of the constitutional commission are very encouraging developments. Pakistan will always remove any obstruction in the way of peace and harmony between Pakistan and Afghanistan," Mr. Musharraf said.

President Musharraf urged the international community to remain focused on Afghanistan's development and progress.

During his visit, Afghan President Karzai asked India and Pakistan to resolve their differences, saying that friendly relations between the two countries would help improve poor economic conditions in the region.

"I would not want anything but dialogue between India and Pakistan to make life for both countries good. Both countries have tremendous potential to exploit interests of trade and [economic] relations. And that will be in the best interest of Afghanistan as well," Mr. Karzai said.

Relations between India and Pakistan remain tense because of their conflict over the divided region of Kashmir. But leaders of both countries in recent days have said they are determined to improve relations.

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