Cameron in Pakistan, discusses Afghan peace with Zardari

ISLAMABAD: British Prime Minister David Cameron arrived in Pakistan on Saturday for talks with President Asif Ali Zardari focussing on the Afghan peace process, officials said.

Cameron made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan earlier in the day, backing talks with the Taliban after his top general said the West missed a chance to strike a peace deal 10 years ago.

“The British Prime Minister has arrived in Islamabad and held talks with the President,” a senior Pakistani government official told AFP.

“Regional situation with reference to peace and reconciliation efforts in neighbouring Afghanistan and economic cooperation between Britain and Pakistan and other matters of mutual interests were discussed during the talks,” the official said.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar in a statement said Zardari “emphasised that Pakistan all along has maintained a constructive approach and believes that dialogue and reconciliation was the only war forward towards ensuring durable peace in Afghanistan.”

Cameron visited troops in the southern province of Helmand earlier Saturday and met President Hamid Karzai, as the Afghan government and international powers try to revive peace efforts that recently collapsed in ignominy.

In February, Cameron hosted Zardari and Karzai to agree on a peace roadmap with the Taliban.

A Taliban office in Qatar that opened on June 18 was meant to foster talks but instead triggered a diplomatic bust-up when the insurgents used the title of the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” from their 1996-2001 reign.

Karzai, furious that the office was being styled as an embassy for a government-in-exile, broke off bilateral security talks with the Americans and threatened to boycott any peace process altogether.

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