Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is set to travel to Kabul for talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, the latest in a series of engagements aimed at reducing mistrust between the two neighbours, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said on Thursday.

PM Abbasi will hold talks with Ghani, Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and other senior officials in the Afghan capital on Friday said Foreign Office Spokesperson Muhammad Faisal in a statement.

The talks will focus on “strengthening bilateral political, economic, security and counter-terrorism cooperation, the return of Afghan refugees, combating drug production and narco-trade, Afghan peace process and regional political and security situation”, the statement read.

Abbasi will be seeking to lessen mistrust with Afghanistan, whose leadership has repeatedly held Pakistan responsible for allegedly offering safe haven to leaders of the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network.

Ghani, in his speech at the Kabul Process meeting on Feb. 28, asked the Taliban to hold peace talks with the government, saying the government will recognize the Taliban as a political party.

During his visit, Abbasi would also discuss with the Afghan leadership ways to facilitate travel between the two countries, assist education and medical treatment of Afghan nationals in Pakistan and expand trade and transit facilitation between the two countries.

To promote regional economic integration, the two countries are participating in key trans-regional initiatives – Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline and Central Asia-South Asia Electricity Transmission and Trade Project (CASA-1000).

Abbasi recently joined Ghani in the western Afghan city of Herat to inaugurate the TAPI gas pipeline project. The two sides are also engaged in undertaking major bilateral rail-road connectivity projects.