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Sharif In Kabul Pledges Support For Peace Talks

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was in Kabul to pledge his support for the peace process.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was in Kabul to pledge his support for the peace process.
During a visit to Kabul, Pakistan's prime minister has said he supports Afghan efforts to seek peace with the Taliban.

Nawaz Sharif was speaking after meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on November 30.

He said the recent release of a senior Taliban leader shows he is committed to helping bring peace to Afghanistan.

"I have assured my brother, President Karzai, that Pakistan would continue to extend all possible facilitation for the Afghan peace process," he said. "We have no favorites in Afghanistan. Our favorite of course is the people of Afghanistan and our favorite is the Afghanistan with which we had brotherly ties."

Pakistan announced in September it had released Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s former second-in-command. Some Afghan officials hope Baradar still retains enough influence within the Taliban and can help rekindle the peace process.

An Afghan delegation travelled to Pakistan recently to meet the former commander, who is believed to remain under the close supervision of Islamabad.

Sharif insisted that Baradar was free and promised that he would help arrange further meetings with members of the Afghan High Peace Council.

"I would say that Mullah Brother has been released," Sharif said. "We have discussed this matter at length today and we jointly have agreed on a mechanism and we will see that it is properly implemented. And anybody who is sent by the president to Pakistan to talk to Mullah brother -- we will carry out the instructions given to us by the president and make sure that such meetings would take place."

Sharif said 2014 would be a "milestone," as most of the Western, U.S.-led troops are planning to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of next year.

"In our view, Sharif added, the key to sustainable peace in Afghanistan in 2014 and beyond is an inclusive political settlement.”

Karzai said that by working together, "Afghanistan and Pakistan will be rescued from terrorism and extremism."

Sharif is on a one-day visit to Afghanistan, his first since he became prime minister in June.

Relations between the two countries have been marked by tensions, with Afghanistan often accusing Pakistan of aiding Taliban leaders sheltering across the border.

With reporting by AP, Reuters, and AFP
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