Turkey and Pakistan on Wednesday voiced support for initiatives to stabilise conflict-torn Afghanistan, including efforts for dialogue with the Taliban.
President Asif Ali Zardari and his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul made the pledges in response to a question on whether Ankara had agreed to host a representation office for the Taliban and whether Islamabad would be ready to help any dialogue process.
“2011 is a very critical year for Afghanistan ... as the foreign troops will begin to withdraw ... we are using all our capabilities to secure Afghanistan’s unity and integrity,” Gul told a joint press conference.
“We are doing this in cooperation with Afghan President [Hamid] Karzai and all Afghan authorities ... we will be part of any activity (aimed at) making further contributions to secure durable peace,” he said.
He would not comment directly on the possible opening of a Taliban office in Turkey.
Zardari, on an official visit to Turkey, said Pakistan “believes in a peaceful transition and dialogue” in Afganistan.
“We’ll be facilitators to any format that leads to peace ... whatever needs to be done, Pakistan will be playing a positive role and hoping to facilitate the transition and dialogue,” he said.
In December, Karzai spoke of suggestions that the Taliban open a representation office in Turkey or another impartial country “to facilitate reconciliation” in Afghanistan, saying he would be happy if Turkey could provide such a venue.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2011.
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