Zardari to visit Kabul amid increased Taliban attacks

December 19th, 2008 - 5:28 am ICT by IANS  

TalibanKabul, Dec 19 (DPA) Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari is scheduled to visit Kabul for the first time Friday for talks with his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai amid increased Taliban-led attacks in both countries, Afghan presidential palace said.”Discussions will be mainly concentrated on expansion of bilateral relations, cooperation in the fight against terrorism and promotion of trade between the two countries,” the palace statement said.

The two leaders are scheduled to hold a press conference after the talks, the statement said.

Karzai and Pakistan’s former president and army chief Pervez Musharraf were at loggerheads over Kabul’s accusation that the Pakistani military was training and equipping remnants of Taliban regime, whose government was ousted in the US military invasion in late 2001.

Afghan officials also accused Islamabad with not doing enough to stop cross-border infiltration by Taliban fighters and foreign militants associated with the Al Qaeda network.

Musharraf vehemently denied the assertions and in return blamed Karzai for being too weak to tackle the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan.

Relations between Kabul and Islamabad have improved following the formation of Zardari’s civilian government, which is seen by Afghan government as being more determined in its fight against Taliban militants.

Karzai attended Zardari’s swearing-in ceremony in Islamabad in September and since then met him twice, on the sidelines of UN General Assembly in New York and in Turkey earlier this month.

Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, who are said to have safe havens on the border between the two countries, have stepped up their attacks in both Islamic states.

The militants have extended their writ to larger swaths of country in Afghanistan while their Pakistani comrades have also been behind a spate of suicide attacks and bombings in Pakistan.

The militants recently attacked supply depots in north-western Pakistan near the border, setting ablaze more than 150 trucks loaded with containers and military vehicles meant for NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Zardari’s wife Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister for Pakistan, was killed in a suicide attack also allegedly carried out by Pakistani Taliban.

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