Pakistan has pledged to support Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s efforts to start peace talks with the Taliban. However, a meeting between Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif produced no concrete results.
Following the two leaders' meeting in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, on Monday, Prime Minister Sharif (pictured right) told a joint press conference that President Karzai had his full support in efforts to make peace in his country.
"I assured President Karzai that Pakistan will continue to extend all possible facilitation to the international community's efforts for the realization of this noble goal," Sharif said. "I also reaffirmed Pakistan's strong and sincere support for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan."
However there were no specifics on what Pakistan was prepared to do to help facilitate a meeting between the representatives of the Islamist Taliban movement and the Afghan government body in charge of efforts to seek reconciliation.
Karzai has been demanding that Pakistan use its traditional ties to the Taliban, whom it supported as it rose to power in the mid 1990s, to get its representatives to the negotiation table.
An attempt to organize previous talks in Qatar's capital, Doha, unravelled in June, after Karzai objected to a flag being displayed which bore symbols of the time when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan.
Prior to those talks, Islamabad complied with one of Karzai's key demands, releasing more than two dozen Taliban prisoners from Pakistani jails - thereby helping get the Islamist movement to the table.
During Monday's press conference, Sharif did not go into specifics of what Islamabad might be willing to do this time.
The Afghan president stressed the two counties' common interest in combating the "lack of security for their citizens and the continued menace of terrorism," particularly with a view to the planned withdrawal of US and other NATO combat troops by the end of 2014.
"It is this area that needs to have primary and focused attention from both governments," said, Karzai, who was on his first visit to Islamabad since Prime Minister Sharif took office in June.
pfd/kms (AP, Reuters, AFP)