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Pakistan-Afghan Talks Conclude - 2004-01-12

Pakistan's prime minister, Zafarullah Jamali, has concluded a trip to Afghanistan, where his talks focused on increasing cooperation in the fight against terrorism and strengthening economic and political ties between the neighboring countries.

After their meeting, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the Pakistani prime minister's visit reflected the strengthening ties between the two countries. The Afghan president said at a news conference Monday in Kabul that he had discussed economic links and terrorism with Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali.

“It's recognized in Pakistan and it's recognized in Afghanistan that the fight against terrorism is a joint fight, it's for the future of both countries and for the future of this region and eventually the future of the international community as a whole,” Mr. Karzai said.

Prime Minister Jamali says his country has increased security along the border to prevent Islamic militants from crossing into Afghanistan. He says the two countries will fight terrorism and religious extremism "hand in hand."

Afghan leaders have accused Pakistan of not doing enough to stop militants hostile to President Karzai's government from using Pakistani territory for attacks in Afghanistan.

Prime Minister Jamali says there are about 65,000 Pakistani troops deployed at about 800 posts on the border to prevent illegal movement between the two countries.

Making his first official visit to Afghanistan as prime minister, Mr. Jamali also pledged to increase economic and transport links between the two countries. He announced that Islamabad is donating 100 buses and 200 trucks to Afghanistan.

Afghan and Pakistani officials have also decided to increase official annual trade to over a billion dollars in the future. Currently, official trade totals about $620 million a year.

As a gesture of goodwill, Pakistan freed about 150 Afghan prisoners ahead of Prime Minister Jamali's one-day trip to Kabul. They were being held for violating immigration laws.