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Afghan, Pakistani ministers to meet in Turkey

world Updated: Jun 05, 2010 15:55 IST

The foreign ministers of Afghanistan and Pakistan will meet in Istanbul next week for talks aimed at bringing the troubled neighbours closer, the Turkish foreign ministry said on Saturday.

Zalmai Rassoul of Afghanistan and Shah Mehmood Qureshi of Pakistan will meet with their Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu Monday ahead of an conference on confidence-building measures in Asia, a ministry statement said.

NATO member Turkey, which has had traditionally close ties with both Afghanistan and Pakistan, has been pushing for the two countries since 2007 to overcome their differences and cooperate against Islamist extremists.

It has hosted four meetings between the Afghan and Pakistani presidents, accompanied by their military and intelligence chiefs, which have ended with pledges of to step up cooperation against extremists.

In Monday's meeting, the ministers will share their views on progress in the trilateral process and steps to be taken in the future, the statement said.

Relations between Kabul and Islamabad have become strained as extremists who fled the US-led ouster of Afghanistan's Taliban regime in late 2001 found a safe haven in Pakistan's northwestern tribal regions.

Afghanistan claims much of its insurgent violence, including attacks on US and NATO soldiers, is planned in Pakistan and has accused its neighbour of not doing enough to curb the militants. Afghan and Western officials have long suspected that some of the Pakistani establishment, particularly the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spy agency, offer support to the Afghan Taliban despite the government's policy.

Islamabad denies the charges and points to its own military efforts against the militants and a wave of insurgent attacks that has killed hundreds of people inside Pakistan.