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Central & South Asia

Afghan and Pakistani leaders in UK for talks

British prime minister to host talks focusing on Afghanistan peace process, as Britain prepares withdrawal of troops.
Last Modified: 03 Feb 2013 12:55
British PM Cameron said Britain would withdraw 3,800 of the country's 9,000 troops from Afghanistan in 2013 [EPA]

Britain is hosting leaders from Afghanistan and Pakistan as part of an ongoing process to improve cooperation between the two Central Asian neighbours.

British Prime Minister David Cameron was to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari on Sunday, ahead of a key summit on bringing peace to war-torn Afghanistan.

"For the first time, we will bring together the political and security establishments from both Afghanistan and Pakistan, with foreign ministers, chiefs of army staff, chiefs of intelligence and the chair of the Afghan High Peace Council attending the meeting," a Downing Street spokesperson said.

"Discussions are expected to focus on the Afghan-led peace process and how the Pakistanis and international community can support it."

The spokesperson added that the two countries were expected to make further progress on the Strategic Partnership Agreement which they committed to in September.

Pakistan, the chief diplomatic backer of the Taliban when the group was in power before 2001, has regularly been accused by both Kabul and Washington of helping destabilise Afghanistan.

"The talks in this summit will be focused on ways to accelerate peace process in Afghanistan and further strengthen co-operations between Afghanistan and Pakistan in the fight against terrorism and extremism," said a statement issued by Karzai's office.

In December, Cameron announced Britain would withdraw 3,800 of the country's 9,000 troops from Afghanistan in 2013, as NATO prepares for a full security handover to Afghan forces at the end of next year.

However, there are growing concerns that a civil war could erupt as the US-led NATO troops leave the country.

Colonel Amin Jan of the Afghan National army has said the British troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, will spark a "global jihad" and that the Afghan security forces lack the quality needed to tackle the Taliban threat.

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