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Pakistani PM Visits Afghanistan In Bid To Ease Tensions


Abbasi (right) shakes hands with Afghan officials in Kabul.

KABUL -- Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi visited the Afghan capital, Kabul, on April 6 for a day-long trip aimed at easing tensions between the neighboring countries.

Abbasi met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah, and other senior Afghan officials, according to Afghan presidential spokesman Shah Hussain Murtazawi.

Murtazawi told RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan that reviving peace talks with the Taliban, the return of Afghan refugees who are now in Pakistan, and the exchange of prisoners were high on the agenda of the meeting between Ghani and Abbasi.

Afghanistan and the United States accuse Pakistan of providing support for Taliban militants who are fighting against the Afghan government and international forces in Afghanistan. Islamabad rejects the accusation.

On the eve of Abbasi’s visit, Kabul accused Pakistan of launching air strikes that caused "huge financial damage" in Afghanistan’s eastern border province of Kunar.

Afghanistan's Foreign Ministry on April 5 charged that Pakistani jets dropped four bombs in Kunar's Dangam district. The ministry made no mention of casualties.

"Afghanistan warns that continuing violations of international norms...will have further consequences on the relations between the two countries," the ministry said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan early on April 6 rejected the allegation that it violated Afghan airspace as "baseless."

In a statement, Islamabad's Foreign Ministry said Pakistan's security forces were countering militant groups based in Afghanistan that have launched attacks across the border.

Military officials from both countries met on April 5 in Pakistan’s garrison city of Rawalpindi, where Pakistani authorities shared details of the operations with Afghanistan, the ministry said, adding that operations took place on the Pakistani side of the border.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said Afghanistan should focus on securing its side of the border and refrain from what it called "the blame game.”

Abbasi’s visit to Kabul is his first since becoming prime minister in 2017.

Ahead of his trip, Abbasi said that "nobody wants peace in Afghanistan more than Pakistan because we are the most affected" by terrorism.

Pakistan is widely seen as the only country that can bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.

Islamabad, however, insists its influence over the militant group has been exaggerated.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan, AP, and Reuters
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