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Musharraf to address tribal assembly in Afghanistan

world Updated: Aug 11, 2007 13:44 IST
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Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has agreed to address a gathering of tribal leaders in Kabul on Saturday over how to contain a growing Taliban and Al-Qaeda insurgency along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Musharraf's last minute move came as Afghan President Hamid Karzai called him on late Friday and extended an invitation to join the concluding session of the joint peace jirga, or tribal assembly, being attended by 650 delegates from both countries.

The gathering of elders, clerics and politician is scheduled to issue its closing statement on Sunday after delegates agreed on Friday to extend the talks by an extra day.

Musharraf startled the stakeholders by bailing out of the first meeting on Thursday, triggering a prompt response from the US, which had negotiated the assembly when Musharraf and Karzai met US President George W Bush in Washington in September last year.

The foreign ministry in Islamabad on Friday confirmed that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had called Musharraf to discuss the jirga - a centuries old mechanism for resolving disputes - and an abortive declaration of emergency in Pakistan.

Islamabad and Kabul have been caught in a fierce war of words over the surge in activities of Taliban and Al Qaeda elements, which have launched cross-border attacks from remote tribal regions along Pakistan's border.

While both are US allies in the war against terrorism, the governments of the two South Asian countries have constantly charged each other with failing to cooperate in one another's counter-terrorism efforts.

Karzai even accused Pakistan of covertly supporting the Taliban to enslave Afghanistan. Pakistan has said the Taliban problem and its solution lie in Afghanistan.

The government of President Musharraf abandoned its support for the Taliban after the US threatened it after the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. Pakistan then joined the US-led war on terrorism as a frontline partner.

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