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Afghan Interior Minister-Intelligence Chief arrived in Islamabad

01 February, 2018

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Afghan Interior Minister-Intelligence Chief arrived in IslamabadISLAMABAD: Afghan Interior Minister Wais Ahmad Barmak and Intelligence Chief Masoom Stanekzai, who arrived in Islamabad on a surprise visit on Wednesday, held detailed talks on security cooperation days after Taliban-claimed attacks in Kabul killed about 125 people and injured nearly 250, Afghan and Pakistani sources said. Afghan security officials had accused the Haqqani network of carrying out the attack in Kabul on security forces on January 27 and Kabul’s Hotel Intercontinental on January 20.

Afghan and American officials claim Afghan militants live in Pakistan, the charges rejected by Pakistan. No statement was issued after the high level talks; however, official and diplomatic sources said the two-hours meeting was held in a “cordial atmosphere and both sides were satisfied with the outcome”. Both sides also agreed to continue negotiations and a Pakistani delegation is likely to visit Kabul on February 3 for follow up talks and share “Pakistan’s concerns about the presence of militants on the Afghan side of the border,” a Pakistani source said. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi led Pakistani side while the Afghan delegation was headed by Afghan interior Minister Barmak. Afghan ambassador Omar Zakhilwal accompanied the Afghan delegation.

Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal, the ISI chief and other senior military and intelligence officials assisted the prime minister.

Afghan deputy ambassador Zardasht Shams told section of the media that Prime Minister Khaqan Abbasi assured the Afghan side that Pakistan will extend full cooperation regarding the probe into the Kabul attacks, which were claimed by the Taliban.

Prime Minister Abbasi “rescheduled other engagements to give more time to the Afghan delegation members, who talked about all issues.” The meeting started around 2:45 pm and continued until 4:45 pm, an official said.

The Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal had earlier wrote on his Twitter that the Afghan government had requested that a high level delegation comprising Interior Minister and National Directorate of Security chief would like to visit Pakistan “with a message from Afghan President and for discussions about cooperation between the two countries.”

Spokesman for the prime minister’s declined to comment and referred the queries to the foreign the spokesman, who did not reply to several messages. Pakistan and Afghan officials held talks in Islamabad following the foreign office announcement that Pakistan has handed over 27 members of the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network to Afghanistan. Faisal wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that the Afghan militants were handed over in November.

“The Pakistan continues to push any suspected TTA (Tehrik-e-Taliban Afghanistan & HN (Haqqani Network) elements to prevent them from using our soil for any terrorist activity in Afghanistan. In this context, 27 individuals suspected of belonging to TTA & HN have been handed over to Afghanistan in November 2017,” the foreign office spokesman said.

Afghan officials in Islamabad and Kabul said they were unaware of the handover.

“This certainly is news to me! It would be a huge step forward in our important bilateral relations if this indeed happens,” Afghan ambassador Zakhilwal said on Twitter,

He also denied Afghan media reports that President Ashraf Ghani has refused to attend phone call from Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. “Not true – no phone call has taken place. Following recent horrific terrorists attacks in Kabul PM Abassi conveyed a message to President Ghani to which it was responded to by high powered personal delegation by the President to meet the PM today,” Zakhilwal wrote on Twitter.

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