Imran khan-Boris Johonson to ensure long-term peace in Afghanistan

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LONDON: Prime Minister Imran Khan and his British counterpart Boris Johnson in a telephone call on Monday discussed a range of issues, including the current situation in Afghanistan, global environmental challenges as well as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Johnson also offered his condolences on the train accident that claimed dozens of lives in Ghotki.

A handout from 10 Downing Street read: “The leaders discussed the current situation in Afghanistan. They agreed on the need to ensure a long-term future of peace and stability in the country. The prime minister reiterated that the UK would continue to use the diplomatic and development tools at our disposal to support the government of Afghanistan.”

A Foreign Office handout said Mr Khan reiterated Pakistan’s support for an “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” peace and reconciliation process and also stated that “a negotiated political solution was the only way forward”.

The two leaders discussed the need to take action to cut carbon emissions and protect biodiversity ahead of the COP26 Summit to be hosted by the UK later this year.

Mr Johnson congratulated Mr Khan on the success of the World Environment Day event which Pakistan hosted with the UN this week.

A day earlier, Mr Johnson in a video message had acknowledged Mr Khan’s efforts in the 10 Billion Tree Tsunami project. “I salute what Prime Minister Imran has done in promising to plant 10 billion trees. I salute what Imran Khan is doing to replant mangroves that are so vital for hoovering up carbon dioxide. I can’t promise a 10 billion tree [campaign] in the UK but I can say we in the UK will work with you and everyone else to tackle climate change and reduce emissions,” Mr Johnson had said.

The UK will host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on Nov 1-12.

In March, Mr Khan in a comment piece for The Times newspaper had written that COP26 would “end in failure without a finance deal”.

“I want to travel to COP26 in Glasgow with hope and optimism, showcasing Pakistan’s positive climate actions. However, what is clear to me is that without a strong climate finance deal on the table, there may not be any agreement at COP26 — an outcome we can all ill afford,” he had written, putting Pakistan’s adaptation finance needs at “$7-$14 billion each year”.

Ahead of the phone call, sources told Dawn that Mr Khan is tentatively scheduled to visit the United Kingdom in July. While no official confirmation or details of the visit were provided by the Pakistan High Commission, sources in Islamabad said his itinerary would be planned in accordance with the Covid-19 restrictions in place.

Pakistan is currently on the UK’s ‘red list’ for travel, which means only UK residents and nationals can enter after a mandatory 10-day hotel quarantine. However, the government has said that diplomatic missions, international organisations and conferences are among the limited exemptions to the travel ban.

Sources said Mr Khan’s trip may coincide with the scheduled England-Pakistan cricket matches in the UK starting on July 8 and ending on July 20.

In England, the final stage in the tiered roadmap for lifting lockdown is on June 21, although the spread of the Delta variant may result in changes to the timelines.

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