Karzai: Afghanistan, US discussing post-2014 security arrangements

Karzai: Afghanistan, US discussing post-2014 security arrangements

President Hamid Karzai on Saturday said Afghanistan was in talks with the United States on keeping its troops in the country after the completion of the planned drawdown of NATO forces in 2014.

He was speaking at a press conference before wrapping up a two-day visit to Pakistan that included talks on improving regional security and enhance bilateral trade and commercial links, DPA reported.

"Whether there would be some US troops continuing to stay after 2014 depends on the strategic declaration between the two countries or the precise document we are discussing," Karzai said.

"Our proposal had gone to the US government in response to their proposal. A delegation will come from the United States to discuss this and that will determine the nature of US presence in Afghanistan (after 2014)".

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani meanwhile signalled Pakistan's support for the Afghan-led peace process, as the two sides inaugurated a high-level Joint Commission for Reconciliation and Peace in Afghanistan.

According to statement issued after the commission's inaugural meeting, "both sides agreed to intensify intelligence-intelligence and military-military cooperation and to hold separate military and intelligence meetings whenever required."

An important meeting of another joint commission aimed at increasing trade and commercial ties resolved to strengthen cooperation for "realizing the shared vision of peace, development and prosperity for their respective peoples and for the region as a whole".

Karzai's visit came at a time when Pakistan is under intense pressure from the US to prevent militants launching cross border attacks on NATO troops in Afghanistan.

He was the first leader to visit since killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden last month in a covert US raid in garrison town of Abbottabad, which has strained ties between Islamabad and Washington.

A joint declaration issued during the visit reaffirmed that the two countries would work together to eliminate terrorism and militancy.

"The leaders reaffirmed their resolve to work together for ensuring durable peace, security and stability and eliminating the menace of terrorism and militancy," it said.

The two sides also agreed to make the new Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA) operational after finalization of the modalities its implementation.

Pakistan formally asked Afghanistan to make the APTTA trilateral by including the Central Asian states, which will help to link it with regional energy rich countries.

Pakistan also announced it would provide 2,000 scholarships for Afghan students and offered to establish 50 basic health units in Afghanistan.

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