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Afghan-Pakistan Leaders Pledge Cooperation In Summit With Britain's Cameron

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron (center) shakes hands with Afghan President Hamid Karzai (left) and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari (right) at Chequers, his official country residence, near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire on February 4.
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron (center) shakes hands with Afghan President Hamid Karzai (left) and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari (right) at Chequers, his official country residence, near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire on February 4.
By RFE/RL
Pakistani and Afghan leaders have pledged cooperation in their efforts to move toward regional stability in a trilateral summit hosted by Britain.

Speaking to journalists after the talks on February 4, British Prime Minister David Cameron noted that the three leaders shared a common vision for a peaceful future Afghanistan.

"We share the same vision for Afghanistan: a secure, stable, and democratic country that never again becomes a haven for terrorism," Cameron said. "And I'm pleased that we're all committed to working together to achieve this because a stable Afghanistan is in all our interests."

Cameron said that the leaders endorsed an Afghan-led peace process and agreed to work toward a strategic partnership agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan by autumn.

"We all fully support an Afghan-led peace process and the opening of an office in Doha for negotiations between the Taliban and the High Peace Council," Cameron said. "This should lead to a future in which all Afghans -- all Afghans -- can participate in that country's political processes."

Afghan President Hamid Karzai welcomed support for his government's efforts to reconcile with the Taliban insurgents. He called on the Taliban to participate in a peace process with his government.

"I endorse [Cameron's] remarks on the peace process and on the deeper relationship between us and Pakistan and very much hope that all that we discussed today and the subsequent agreements that we made will be put into action, to the satisfaction of all sides, and that the Taliban, as we call upon them, will take this opportunity to participate in the peace process," Karzai said.

For his part, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari expressed his support for an Afghan peace process. Islamabad has already released many senior Taliban figures during the past two months. Pakistani officials say they will free all Taliban prisoners in the coming months.

"Pakistan endorses the concept -- it's on the world peace agenda -- to have a dialogue with the Taliban," Zardari said. "We will support it, we will help it, and hopefully come out of this war which has been very damaging to both our nations."

Kabul is pushing for a peace deal with Taliban militants ahead of the scheduled withdrawal of most foreign troops by the end of 2014.

The British prime minister and Afghan and Pakistani leaders were joined by foreign ministers, defense, and intelligence officials in their deliberations. The summit was held at Cameron's country residence, Chequers.

A statement from Cameron's office said that Afghan and Pakistani security officials agreed on ways to strengthen cooperation. But it did not detail the specific steps the two sides will be taking.

It is the third meeting in the trilateral format.

With reporting by AP and AFP

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