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Canada, Pak foreign ministers open talks

Pakistan opened talks with Canada with its plan to sow landmines at its border with Afghanistan expected to figure prominently.

india Updated: Jan 09, 2007 15:02 IST

Pakistan opened talks with Canada here on Tuesday with its plan to sow landmines at its border with Afghanistan expected to figure prominently.

Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay met with his Pakistani counterpart Khurshid Kasuri after flying into Pakistan late Monday following an overnight stay in Afghanistan.

MacKay has opposed the proposed mining and fencing of the border by Pakistan, which is not a signatory to the Ottawa Treaty against the use of landmines.

The two foreign ministers will "exchange views on various aspects of bilateral relations and also share perspective on regional issues including (the) situation in Afghanistan," a foreign ministry official said.

During a visit to southern Afghanistan's troubled city of Kandahar, MacKay said he would tell Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf that mining of the border with Afghanistan was unacceptable.

"I do not accept the use of landmines," MacKay told reporters in the southern province of Kandahar, where about 2,500 Canadian soldiers are facing some of the worst violence of the Taliban-led insurgency.

"I certainly intend to relay this to President Musharraf during my visit to Pakistan. There are other ways to find a solution."

MacKay is expected to hold talks with Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz later on Tuesday.

Pakistan said last month it would mine and fence part of the rugged 2,500-kilometre border to block militants' crossing from Pakistan to fight in Afghanistan's worsening insurgency.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the United Nations have also rejected the plan, which has prompted at least two demonstrations Sunday in areas of Afghanistan along the border.

Officials said Kasuri and MacKay would also discuss ways to expand economic and commercial ties.

"The visit of Foreign Minister MacKay would reinforce mutual understanding on regional and international issues of common interest and deepen bilateral cooperation in diverse fields," the foreign ministry said.