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Pakistan-Afghanistan declaration signed

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, second left, speaks as Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, third right, with Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, fourth right, during an inaugural meeting of joint peace commission at Prime Minister House in Islamabad, Pakistan on Saturday, June 11, 2011. – AP Photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Afghanistan signed a 23-point declaration here on Saturday.

Hina Rabbani Khar, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and her Afghan counterpart, Dr Zalmai Rassoul, signed the Islamabad declaration in the presence of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Through the declaration, the two countries agreed to improve connectivity and infrastructure development, initiate cooperation in energy, mines and mineral sectors and significantly increase cultural, parliamentary, student, youths and people-to-people contacts.

According to details of the declaration issued by the Foreign Office, the two countries expressed satisfaction over the establishment of the two-tier joint commission mechanism for facilitating and promoting reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan.

Both sides expressed satisfaction on the signing and ratification of the new Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement and successful finalisation of modalities and mechanism for its implementation.

The two countries agreed to initiate consultations with other interested states to establish trade transit and facilitation mechanisms/ arrangements, which would enable their Central Asian neighbours to use overland routes through Afghanistan and Pakistan to the world.

Both sides also agreed to promote cooperation in financial and banking sectors and, in particular, initiate consultations for the establishment of a joint investment company for undertaking joint development projects in each other’s country.

Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to take steps for establishing special economic and industrial zones and to work together for the speedy realisation of the reconstruction opportunity zones, including securing greater market access. In this context, they underscored the importance of trade to strengthen and optimally utilise their respective and collective economic potential.

The declaration says the natural economic ‘complementarity’ of both countries and of the region holds enormous prospects of mutually-beneficial and harmonious economic growth.

The two countries called upon their friends and partners and the international community as a whole to assist and support development and economic opportunities by providing immediate preferential market access to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

It was agreed to work towards developing a framework of cooperation on infrastructure development. In this context, both sides emphasised the importance of enhancing connectivity and upgrading rail and road infrastructure.

It was agreed that steps would be initiated to set up a rail link between Peshawar and Jalalabad.

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