Pakistani, Afghan Leaders Vow Security Cooperation

By Kamran Haider, Reuters

ISLAMABAD–The leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan vowed on Wednesday to boost intelligence cooperation to meet the menace of terrorism that was destroying both countries, Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf said.

Relations between Musharraf and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have at times over recent years virtually broken down over Afghan complaints that Taliban insurgents operate from the Pakistani side of their common border.

But the two leaders appeared relaxed and amicable at a news conference after talks in Islamabad and they both referred to their countries as twins.

Musharraf said Pakistanis and Afghans were suffering from extremism and terrorism.

“The key in fighting and enhancing the capability against terrorism and extremism is intelligence cooperation,” he said.

“The two intelligence agencies, on both sides, must cooperate more strongly if we are to deal with terrorists and extremists more effectively,” he said.

Afghanistan is grappling with an intense Taliban insurgency while Pakistani forces are battling pro-Taliban militants in different parts of the northwest, near the Afghan border.

Suicide bombers regularly strike in both countries.

Karzai referred to Musharraf as his brother and said they had discussed issues of vital importance.

“The people of both countries are suffering a lot and it is incumbent upon us, the leadership of the two governments, to find ways to bring peace and stability,” Karzai told the news conference.

The two countries, both U.S. allies, have in the past vowed to work together against militancy but have taken few concrete steps.

Karzai, who has often spoken of the need for tackling militant training camps in Pakistan, said militant attacks had declined along the border with Pakistan.

Karzai also said their talks had covered a shortage of wheat flour plaguing both countries and boosting trade and the transit of goods through Pakistan.

He said he hoped the talks would result in action and the fruition of what they had agreed.

(Writing by Robert Birsel; Editing by David Fogarty)


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