September 5, 2015 / 3:16 PM / in 5 years

Pakistan says agrees with Afghanistan to stop blame game over attacks

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to end a blame game over a spate of attacks and work to restore trust, Pakistan’s foreign policy chief said.

Advisor to Pakistan's Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz listens to a question during a news conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad April 8, 2015. REUTERS/Caren Firouz

Sartaj Aziz, foreign affairs adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister, visited the Afghan capital Kabul on Friday for a regional economic conference and also held meetings with the president, foreign minister and national security adviser.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani made closer ties with Pakistan a priority when he took office last year, hoping Islamabad could push Afghan Taliban leaders to the bargaining table to end Afghanistan’s long war.

The relationship appeared to yield fruit in July with groundbreaking official peace talks with the militants. But after confirmation of the death of group’s founder Mullah Mohammad Omar, the process was suspended and the Taliban launched a wave of attacks in Kabul, killing more than 50 people.

“The main thing that we both agreed upon was to restore trust, end the blame game against each other and create a positive atmosphere,” Aziz said in comments broadcast on state television on Saturday about his meeting with Ghani.

“We will work on establishing memorandum of trust building to avoid such a situation in the future.”

Afghanistan has not publicly commented on the talks.

Aziz also confirmed that the Afghan finance minister would visit Pakistan in the first week of November to attend a meeting of a joint economic commission to discuss and expand trade ties.

Afghanistan and Pakistan accuse each other of doing too little to prevent Taliban fighters and other Islamist militants from operating on their territory.

In August, the Pakistan army’s press wing said four soldiers were killed and four wounded by mortars fired across the Afghan border in the Akhandwala Pass.

In the same month, Pakistan summoned Afghan Ambassador Janan Mosazai twice in a week to complain about border violations.

Afghanistan’s intelligence service also said a Pakistani intelligence officer helped the Taliban carry out an attack on parliament in June.

Afghanistan has accused Pakistan of not doing enough to arrest Afghan Taliban leaders who have been meeting to decide on a successor to Mohammad Omar. Islamabad insists any such meetings are held in Afghanistan.

Afghan officials have long accused Pakistan of tolerating or even supporting the Afghan Taliban, a charge denied by Pakistan.

An Afghan delegation to Pakistan last month led by Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani demanded “serious and practical measures” from Islamabad over militant attacks it said came from across the border.

Pakistan offered three options to Afghanistan, Afghan sources have told Reuters, including expelling Taliban-linked militants into Afghan territory, and trying to restart peace talks.

Reporting by Amjad Ali; Writing by Mehreen Zahra-Malik; Editing by Alison Williams

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