After visiting troops in Afghanistan, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has arrived in the Pakistan capital for talks. Violence in Kashmir and a tense security situation in neighboring Afghanistan are on the agenda.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas arrived in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, Tuesday amid ongoing violence in Kashmir and a tense security situation in Afghanistan.
Regional security is high on the agenda in his meetings with high-ranking Pakistani officials, including Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Maas' visit comes as the Pakistani army reported that two people were killed Tuesday in the disputed Kashmir region in an exchange of gunfire between Pakistani and Indian border forces.
Meeting with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Maas said that "Pakistan and India both have a great responsibility to prevent escalation." He added that both countries needed to keep communication channels open and work to diffuse the conflict.
The mountainous, isolated region of Kashmir is claimed by both Pakistan and India. Tensions are high after a bombing blamed on militants based in Pakistan and air strikes by India on Pakistani territory.
Role of Pakistan in Afghanistan
While in Islamabad, Maas is also expected to drum up support for closer cooperation with Afghanistan. Maas arrived in the Pakistani capital after a visit to Afghanistan on Monday, during which he mentioned Pakistan as being "key to a stable Afghanistan."
During his Pakistan visit, the German Foreign Ministry said Maas is also expected to meet with members of Pakistani NGOs and visit a clinic for Afghan refugees.
Maas said Tuesday in Islamabad that Pakistan would play "an important role" in the Afghan peace process.
"With the trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan we want to send a clear signal: Germany is standing by the responsibility it has taken on as the second-largest donor and troop supplier in Afghanistan," Maas said while in Afghanistan.
In a statement, the foreign ministry said that Pakistan was "decisive" in reducing tension in the entire region and preventing cross-border terrorism was a priority. Pakistan is often accused of harboring terrorists.
Germany has deployed some 1,300 soldiers as part of NATO's Resolute Support mission, which trains Afghan security forces. While in Afghanistan, Maas spoke of the "start of a new phase."
wmr/jm (dpa, AFP)