WASHINGTON - Reiterating that terrorist safe havens continue to exit across the border, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai said his government is talking to Pakistan on a range of issues, including terrorism, in a more open and friendlier manner than ever before.
“There is no doubt that Haqqani network is in Miranshah. The Pakistani government would not deny that there are other sanctuaries as well across the border. But the difference today is that we are talking about these issues more openly and in a friendlier environment than ever before,” Mr. Karzai told CNN in an interview.
He said in keeping with this new environment that we hope we can find solutions.
“Pakistan is a neighbour of ours and we have begun a dialogue with them. And the dialogue is quite ahead now in seeking solutions to the problems that we have.
“It is keeping with this dialogue that we are moving forward, and we hope that the end result of all this activity, of all this effort, the endeavour on the part of both of us, and the US, will be the removal of the terrorists from the region,” Mr. Karzai said.
Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, he said, would visit Kabul in about a week’s time.
“We are supposed to be discussing all the issues that are of importance to both the countries. Among those issues, on the top of is, of course, the issue of terrorism and the damage that it does to both the countries and need for us to work together to find ways out,” he said.
“We are in a dialogue with Pakistan. We hope that this dialogue will move forward to result in the removal of the terrorists from Pakistan and the consequences that these terrorists have for both Afghanistan and Pakistan. So, we are working toward a constructive relationship with Pakistan in all these areas,” he said.
Mr. Karzai termed his brief encounters with Presidents Barack Obama and Asif Ali Zardari on the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Chicago as “just a photo-opportunity and not a meeting”.“No, we didn’t have a three-way meeting.
We had a three-way photograph taking,” Mr. Karzai told CNN, referring to the photo released by the White House in which the three presidents were talking to each other.“Just a photo opportunity.”
When asked why a three way meeting was not held to discuss the most important issues Afghanistan, Pakistan and the U.S., he said, “it wasn’t for us to decide on the three-way meeting. The US was the host and perhaps they saw it fit for some other time.”
A White House in a readout of the meeting said ” the President (Obama) had the chance to briefly speak with President Zardari and President Karzai, underscoring their shared commitment to an Afghan-led reconciliation process to bring the war to a responsible end.”