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Afghanistan, Pakistan agree to enhance bilateral ties

(Xinhua)

08:49, February 02, 2012

KABUL, Feb. 1 (Xinhua) -- The governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed Wednesday in Kabul on an enhanced engagement for promoting bilateral cooperation in various fields, said a joint communique.

The joint communique was released at the end of a meeting by Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rasoul and his visiting Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar.

The Pakistani foreign minister also met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the two sides held in-depth consultations to work out a program for promoting bilateral cooperation in diverse fields, it said.

Both sides reaffirmed the historical, cultural and religious bonds of friendship that exist between the two neighboring countries and their people, it said, adding that they "reiterated commitment to steering bilateral relations in accordance with the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence, mutual respect and the UN Charter."

It was agreed that a strong, robust and independent bilateral relationship would greatly contribute to peace and stability in the region, it said.

The two sides also recognized that terrorism and extremism are common challenges that require a common approach and close cooperation in dealing with these challenges.

Pakistan also agreed that an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process is vital for reaching an intra-Afghan political settlement with a view to achieving long-term peace, stability and progress in Afghanistan.

The two countries expressed satisfaction that the documented annual bilateral trade has reached 2.5 billion U.S. dollars, and agreed to double it to 5 billion dollars by 2015, it said.

They also agreed to consult for developing a framework for mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of mines and minerals and give priority attention to the development of infrastructure for achieving shared progress and prosperity.

The Pakistani side said they look forward to the Afghan president's upcoming visit to Islamabad on Feb. 16-17.

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