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British Mediation Helps Ease Afghanistan’s Tensions with Pakistan

Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan (L) shakes hands with British Home Secretary Amber Rudd after an agreement signing on security issues in Islamabad, March 21, 2017.

Britain is being credited with an apparent reduction in political tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan and reopening the border between the two countries.

Pakistan’s interior minister, Nisar Ali Khan, acknowledged and appreciated the diplomatic intervention Tuesday while addressing a joint news conference in Islamabad with visiting British Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

“That facilitation took place through the good offices of her majesty’s government and as a result of the discussions that took place, you have already seen some positive movements in defusing tensions and doubts between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” said Khan.

WATCH: Khan on Britain's positive influence

Pakistan Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan Hails Positive Movement in Tensions with Afghanistan
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The minister was referring to his government’s decision on Monday to open the border crossings with landlocked Afghanistan, a month after they were closed. Islamabad had justified the move by saying Afghan-based militants mounted deadly attacks on Pakistani soil and Pakistan demanded the neighboring country prevent the terrorist activity.

Pakistani soldiers check the identity of citizens returning from Afghanistan at the border town of Chaman, Pakistan, March 7, 2017.
Pakistani soldiers check the identity of citizens returning from Afghanistan at the border town of Chaman, Pakistan, March 7, 2017.

The border closure fueled bilateral tensions until Britain intervened last week and hosted crucial talks between Afghan National Security Advisor Haneef Atmar and Pakistani foreign policy advisory Sartaj Aziz.

British Home Secretary Rudd reiterated her government’s resolve to facilitate such meetings in the future for promoting regional peace.

“We remain ready to try and facilitate meetings that will help for a peaceful atmosphere to evolve in London or wherever we can. We are friends to Pakistan so whenever we can we will try to facilitate that sort of environment,” she said.

WATCH: Rudd on working toward peaceful environment

British Home Secretary Rudd on Pakistan-Afghanistan Relations
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Rudd also praised the counterterrorism efforts of Pakistani security forces and said Britain would be ready to work closely with Pakistan to help solidify those gains.

“I have been impressed by the way that this country has increased its safety record so significantly over the past two years and I hope will be able to help you build on that with some of our ideas and developments,” she said.

The closure of the border had caused tens of millions of dollars in losses for traders in both countries. Afghanistan depends on Pakistani ports for its imports and the border closure stranded thousands of shipping containers after having left Karachi.

Meanwhile, the government of Afghanistan has also acknowledged Islamabad has recently taken a series of steps to promote its promised and sincere cooperation to resolve problems between the two countries.

In a statement issued in Kabul, the foreign ministry, without giving details of Pakistani actions, also reported progress on Afghan complaints that the neighboring country differentiates between “good and bad Taliban.”

Afghanistan has long maintained that Pakistani security forces are taking action against anti-state militants but spare and protect insurgents using Pakistani soil for orchestrating cross-border attacks.