Pakistan foreign minister in Kabul to boost ties with Afghanistan

Islamabad/Kabul, Oct 21 (EFE).- Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi arrived in Kabul Thursday to discuss bilateral ties and ways to deepen cooperation during his first trip to Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover.

Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi received Qureshi at the Kabul airport on arrival for a day-long visit to the country battling humanitarian crisis after the ouster of the Western-backed government of former Ashraf Ghani, who has since fled to the United Arab Emirates.

A foreign office spokesperson in Islamabad said Qureshi would hold “high-level delegation” talks with his Afghan counterpart.

He will also meet other leaders of the interim government in Kabul.

“The talks between the two sides will cover the entire spectrum of bilateral relations and focus on ways and means to deepen cooperation in diverse areas,” the spokesperson said in a media statement.

“The foreign minister will share Pakistan’s perspective on issues of regional peace and stability.”

A Taliban Cultural Commission official told EFE in Kabul that the two sides would discuss mutual ties, the issue of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, and unblocking the international humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan.

Qureshi is the third foreign minister after Qatar and Uzbekistan to visit Kabul since the Taliban took power on Aug.15.

Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed, chief of the Pakistan spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence, is traveling with Qureshi.

Hameed was earlier in Kabul on Sep.4 on a surprise visit.

The foreign office said Pakistan had always stood by Afghanistan and kept the border crossing points open for trade and pedestrian crossing under coronavirus protocols.

“Facilitative visa regime for Afghan nationals and border crossing procedures for trade and cargo have been instituted,” the statement said.

The foreign ministry said the visit reflected Pakistan’s “consistent policy of supporting the brotherly Afghan people, deepening bilateral trade and economic relations, and facilitating closer people-to-people contacts.”

Pakistan has been consistently urging the world to engage with the Taliban government and not repeat the “mistake” of abandoning them like in the 1990s to avert a potential humanitarian crisis.

The visit comes a day after an international meeting in Moscow urged the United Nations to hold a donor conference to prevent a humanitarian crisis in post-war Afghanistan.

Envoys, including some Taliban leaders, from 10 countries, huddled together in the Russian capital to discuss the changing situation in the war-ravaged country after the Islamist militia returned to power in Kabul.

So far, no nation has officially recognized the new Afghan government, even as many countries, including Pakistan, have maintained de facto contact with the ruling Taliban.

There has been a global demand for an inclusive Afghan government with women leaders and representation from all ethnic minorities for the Taliban to get international legitimacy.

The Taliban government does not have woman leaders and has only a few representatives from non-Pashtun ethnic groups holding positions.

Afghan Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Abdul Salam Hanafi, who led the Taliban delegation to the Russian capital, told the meeting that the Taliban government was inclusive.

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