September 6, 2015 / 12:24 PM / in 2 years

Afghanistan asks Pakistan to act against militants after talks

ISLAMABAD/KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan asked Pakistan to act against Afghan Taliban militants operating on its territory during weekend talks in Kabul, while Pakistan said the South Asian neighbors needed to build trust, officials said after the meetings.

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

The Afghan Taliban, ousted from power by a U.S.-led coalition in 2001, has been gaining territory in its insurgency against the government led by President Ashraf Ghani.

Afghanistan and Pakistan have long accused each other of sheltering Taliban fighters and other Islamist militants who conduct attacks inside their territory, charges both deny.

“We reiterate our position and state facts, asking Pakistan to take action against terrorist groups inside its territory that declare war against our people,” a spokesman for the Afghan president’s office said in statement on Sunday.

Pakistan said after the meetings that both countries should work together to restore trust, and that an agreement had been reached to end a blame game over a spate of attacks.

“We will work on establishing a memorandum of trust building to avoid such a situation in the future,” Sartaj Aziz, foreign affairs adviser to Pakistan’s prime minister said on state television on Saturday about his meeting with Ghani.

Aziz 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.

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

Progress appeared to have been made in July after both governments said a peace process with the militants had restarted.

This was not confirmed by the insurgents however, and early meetings came to a halt after the Taliban’s leader Mullah Omar was revealed to have died.

News of his death was followed by a wave of deadly attacks in Kabul that killed over 50 people and wounded hundreds more, prompting the Afghan president to lash out at Pakistan demanding it act against militants sheltering on its territory.

Aziz said the talks had produced an agreement to avoid any further breakdown in relations between the countries.

“The main thing that we both agreed upon was to restore trust, end the blame game against each other,” he said.

Reporting by Amjad Ali and Jessica Donati; Writing by Mehreen Zahra-Malik and Jessica Donati; Editing by Ros Russell

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