LONDON: British Prime Minister David Cameron will meet the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan this weekend as part of a trilateral summit to prevent a Taliban resurgence when foreign troops leave, Downing Street said Saturday.
The premier will dine with President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai at his country retreat Chequers in Buckinghamshire, southeast England, on Sunday.
Cameron will then hold the first in-depth top-level talks with both leaders and their key officials on Monday.
“The Prime Minister will host the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan at Chequers on Sunday and Monday as part of his ongoing efforts to help to strengthen Afghanistan-Pakistan relations, support an Afghan peace and reconciliation process and promote regional peace and stability,” a Downing Street spokesperson said.
“For the first time, we will bring together the political and security establishments from both Afghanistan and Pakistan, with foreign ministers, chiefs of army staff, chiefs of intelligence and the chair of the Afghan High Peace Council attending the meeting.
“Discussions are expected to focus on the Afghan-led peace process and how the Pakistanis and international community can support it. We also expect the Afghans and Pakistanis to make further progress on the Strategic Partnership Agreement they committed to in September.”
Back in December, Cameron had announced Britain would withdraw 3,800 of the country’s 9,000 troops from Afghanistan in 2013, as Nato prepares for a full security handover to Afghan forces at the end of next year.
Monday’s talks will meanwhile be the third trilateral session since summer last year, after meetings in Kabul in July and in New York in September.
“This trilateral process sends a very clear message to the Taliban: now is the time for everyone to participate in a peaceful political process in Afghanistan,” the spokesperson added.
“As the Prime Minister has set out previously, a stable Afghanistan is not just in the interests of Afghans, but also in the interests of their neighbours and the UK.
“We share the same vision for Afghanistan: a secure, stable and democratic country that never again becomes a haven for international terror.
“We are working together to achieve it and Afghanistan’s neighbours have a vital role to play. It is vital not just for the future security of their citizens, but for their prosperity too.”
Zardari arrives in UK
President Asif Ali Zardari has arrived in London to attend the trilateral summit with leaders of Afghanistan and Britain to assess the joint strategy for giving impetus to reconciliation process which is aimed at ensuring long term stability in Afghanistan.
The trilateral summit is a political and diplomatic initiative and part of efforts of the international community including United States to let political strategy take centre stage as the US administration goes ahead with plans to start withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan in 2014.
Meetings of the three leaders will spread over more than one session and include Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Director General ISI will also reportedly participate in the meetings.
For its part, Pakistan has maintained that it is fully supportive of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process in Afghanistan.