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Afghan President To Visit Pakistan Soon

Afghan President Hamid Karzai often accuses Pakistan of backing the Taliban.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai will visit Pakistan soon in an effort to improve ties between the two neighbors.

Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Janan Musazai said on July 28 that officials from the two countries are working to prepare a "practical and clear" agenda for the visit.

He did not give any dates for the trip, but said that Kabul hoped that "the visit is not just ceremonial."

Last week Karzai accepted an invitation to visit Islamabad only when an "effective struggle against terrorism and the peace process are on the top of the agenda."

The invitation was extended on June 21 during high-level talks designed to mend increasingly tense relations.

Kabul often accuses Islamabad of backing the Taliban.

However, Washington views Islamabad as a key player in the negotiations because of its long-standing ties with the Taliban.

Meanwhile, British troops have briefly returned to a volatile district in southern Afghanistan.

The British Ministry of Defense confirmed on July 28 that 80 British military advisers have traveled back to Sangin district in the southern province of Helmand.

They helped some 2,000 Afghan soldiers clear insurgents during an eight-day military operation.

The "Sunday Times" newspaper, which first reported on the mission, said British Defense Minister Philip Hammond gave a special go-ahead to the operation.

The country's defense officials have downplayed their involvement, saying British troops do operate outside central Helmand, where they are currently present.

It was the first British deployment of its kind since the NATO-led international military coalition handed over Helmand's security to Afghan forces. (AP,

Based on reporting by AP, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, BBC, and "Sunday Times"