Afghan President Hamid Karzai travels to Pakistan Monday, on a mission to gain Islamabad's help in ending 12 years of war through direct talks between the Kabul government and Taliban insurgents.
The two-day visit will be the Afghan leader's first direct contact with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Shari, since he took office in June.
Tensions between Afghan leaders and their Pakistani counterparts have simmered for years over Afghan accusations that Pakistan shelters Taliban commanders and helps them plot attacks on local and U.S.-led coalition forces. Pakistan has consistently denied the allegations.
Many analysts say Karzai's push for Pakistani help in ending the war in Afghanistan is likely to intensify ahead of the December 2014 deadline for the pullout of U.S.-led NATO forces.
Afghan officials say Karzai will also press for the release of Afghan prisoners held in Pakistan, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a former deputy commander of the Taliban.
The insurgent was believed to be independently attempting to engage in peace talks with Afghan authorities in 2010. But Pakistani officials detained him while traveling in Pakistan that year.
Ahead of the Karzai visit, Pakistan's foreign ministry described the mission as a sign that the leaders of both countries wants to improve relations.
Karzai refused to participate in security talks in June that were to have included U.S. diplomats and Taliban representatives. In scuttling the Doha talks, the Afghan leader said he was protesting efforts by the Taliban to portray itself as a sovereign entity rather than a rebel movement seeking reconciliation.