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Afghan, Pakistani Leaders Discuss Tense Bilateral Ties

FILE - Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (left) talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad, Pakistan.
FILE - Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (left) talks with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Pakistani and Afghan leaders met Saturday on the sidelines of an international conference in Turkmenistan to discuss issues straining ties between their two countries.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani discussed bilateral relations and regional issues, Pakistani officials said without giving further details.

Sharif and Ghani are attending the first Global Sustainable Transport Conference the United Nations has convened in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat.

The two-day international gathering is aimed at highlighting the fundamental role of sustainable transport in fighting climate change and achieving a sustainable future.

Peaceful neighborhood

Sharif, while addressing the conference, reiterated that Pakistan is committed to a policy of a peaceful neighborhood.

“Peace and development are interlinked. Without regional peace and stability, we will not be able to reap the benefits of connectivity and integration,” he said.

Meanwhile, Afghan officials say Pakistan’s outgoing military chief, General Raheel Sharif, in a farewell telephone call to Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah Friday night, discussed strengthening of bilateral relations.

The contacts between Afghan and Pakistani leaders come as traditionally mistrust-marred relations between the two countries have deteriorated in recent months over mutual allegations of sponsored terrorist attacks on each other’s soils.

Accusations on both sides

Ghani alleges Pakistani intelligence agencies are covertly supporting the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan and allowing them to use sanctuaries on the other side of the border.

Islamabad rejects the charges and instead blames Afghan authorities for harboring anti-Pakistan militants.

Pakistan’s recent push to send millions of documented and undocumented Afghan refugees back to Afghanistan has also fueled the tensions.

Pakistani officials insist the refugee localities serve as hiding places for insurgents involved in terrorist attacks in both countries.