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Top Pakistani Official Visits Afghan Capital

Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasul (left) and Pakistani prime ministerial adviser on foreign affairs and national security Sartaj Aziz speak during a press conference in Kabul on July 21.
A top Pakistani official has begun meetings with senior Afghan officials after arriving in Kabul as part of an effort to improve the strained ties between the neighboring countries.

Sartaj Aziz, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s national security and foreign affairs adviser, told journalists in Kabul on July 21 that Islamabad would "facilitate" peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban.

"We will not initiate or impose any solution nor make any proposal," Aziz said. "We only facilitate the interdialogue."

After a meeting with Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasul, according to the "Wall Street Journal," Aziz vowed to boost the Afghan peace process via a "policy of noninterference" and better trade ties.

"For us a peaceful, and stable, and united Afghanistan is in the vital interest of Pakistan, because without peace and security in Afghanistan peace and security in Pakistan cannot be assured," Aziz said.

"Pakistan will continue to support the efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. We believe the process must be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned."

He added that the Pakistani government "have…some contacts with the Taliban in the past but we don't control them."

Aziz, who is on a one-day visit, was expected to meet later on July 21 with President Hamid Karzai.

It is the first visit to Afghanistan by a senior Pakistani official since Pakistan’s new government was formed after elections in May.

Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been frequently strained, with Kabul accusing Islamabad of backing the Taliban.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and dpa