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President Zardari Visits Afghanistan

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari arrived in Afghanistan on January 6 for a two-day visit during which he met with President Hamid Karzai to discuss issues of bilateral and regional concern. The visit to Afghanistan, which came at the invitation of President Karzai, was President Zardari's first.

In discussions both presidents agreed to work more closely to fight terrorism and extremism. "We hope that this friendship, this new relationship achieves what is desired by both nations, which means a strong fight against terrorism, terrorism is defeated and is forced out, extremism is defeated," said President Karzai during a joint press conference. "We intend to work towards a better tomorrow," added President Zardari.

In a joint declaration, Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr. Rangin D. Spanta and his Pakistani counterpart Mr. Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi agreed to develop a joint comprehensive strategy for combating terrorism and strengthening bilateral cooperation and closely work with each other as well as with the international community to counter and completely eliminate the menaces of militancy, extremism and terrorism from the region. They also pledged to increase cooperation in order to promote bilateral and regional cooperation in all fields, especially in the realms of economy, trade, transit, investment, agriculture, education and technology.

President Zardari's visit highlights an increasingly close relationship that has developed between Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent months. In late October 2008, Foreign Minister Spanta met with his Pakistani counterpart, where they pledged to work more closely to battle terrorism and extremism. During the same month, representatives from Afghanistan and Pakistan met to discuss reconciliation efforts with certain sectors of the Taliban as part of a larger strategy to attack terrorism in the region. In December 2008 President Karzai and President Zardari met in Turkey, where at the invitation of Prime Minister Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan they promised to improve bilateral ties.

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