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Afghanistan Agrees To Resume Talks With Pakistan

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
KABUL -- Afghanistan has accepted Pakistan's offer to resume talks that the Kabul government had boycotted after accusing its neighbor of being behind a series of attacks.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani talked on the sidelines of a regional summit in Colombo on August 3, their first meeting since July 15.

"At the suggestion of Pakistan, the Afghan side agreed to reengage on all bilateral and multilateral forums," a presidential palace statement said.

They agreed the two governments needed to develop a common strategy to overcome the threat of terrorism and extremism. The two foreign ministers will meet soon, it said.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are both important U.S. allies but their relations have for decades been dogged by a dispute over their border. Recently, Kabul has accused Pakistan of involvement in violence in Afghanistan, where the Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants routinely attack foreign and Afghan forces.

More than 15,000 people, including about 460 foreign troops, have been killed in Afghanistan since 2006 when the ousted Taliban relaunched their insurgency.

Afghanistan says Pakistan harbors the militants and Karzai last month said directly that Pakistani agents were behind the recent violence, including the suicide attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul on July 7 that killed 58 people.

India has blamed Pakistan's intelligence agency for the attack on its mission -- a charge denied by Pakistan.

Islamabad backed the Taliban in Afghanistan through the 1990s but officially cut support after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Hundreds of Pakistani soldiers have been killed trying to dislodge Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters from enclaves on the Afghan border. The militants have been responsible for many bomb attacks on Pakistani security forces.

Despite that, Pakistan has never been able to dispel suspicion that for various reasons it is at least turning a blind eye to help going to the Taliban in Afghanistan.