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Afghan, Pakistani Leaders To Pursue Peace Despite Attack


Presidents Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan, Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan, and Abdullah Gul of Turkey (left to right) chat during a dinner at the Presidential Palace of Cankaya in Ankara.
At a trilateral summit in Turkey, the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan say they are determined to press ahead with peace efforts despite a recent attack on the Afghan spy chief.

Speaking at press conference with Turkish and Pakistani leaders on December 12, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said they discussed at their meeting ways to implement their past agreements.

"This visit is taking place in spite of the assassination attempt on Afghan intelligence chief Asadullah Khalid," Karzai said.

"We discussed various ways of putting into action the promises that we have made, with the hope that now we should be taking practical steps in bringing more confidence and trust."

He added that he had "very good conversations" with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari about the December 6 assassination attempt on the Afghan intelligence chief.

Afghan officials had earlier said that he would present evidence about the attack to the Pakistani leader. Last week Karzai said on December 8 that the attack was planned in the Pakistani city of Quetta, and while he did not directly blame Pakistan’s government, he said that “bigger hands were involved.”

After the meeting, Karzai expressed satisfaction over having a sustained dialogue with Pakistan but was worried about the mounting violence.

"Hopefully, the fight against extremism and radicalism will take itself to a conclusion where the populations of the two countries are not threatened, killed, or challenged by these menaces," he said.

'An Attempt To Drive Us Apart'

Zardari said that the attack on the Afghan spy chief was an effort to prevent the two governments from cooperating in leading their countries to peace.

"The attempt this time also on the intelligence chief of Afghanistan is an indication of the same factor, that they do not want us, the governments, to get together and to be able to lead the nations to peace," the Pakistani leader said.

RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal reported that Pakistani Army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) head Zaheerul Islam attended the meeting.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul agreed with Zardari and characterized the bombing as an effort to disrupt the dialogue between Kabul and Islamabad.

He said that at the trilateral summit in Ankara both countries had "renewed trust and are determined to work together."

Islamabad and Kabul have had an acrimonious relationship since 2001, despite the fact that Pakistan is considered central to a peace settlement in Afghanistan.

Afghan officials, however, still see Pakistan as supporting their Taliban enemies by providing sanctuary and support to the insurgents.

Islamabad has always denied such charges.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and