Pakistan foreign minister makes first trip to Kabul since Taliban takeover

The visit comes after prolonged problems at the Chaman border crossing

  
Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi addresses the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, September 10, 2019.

Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi addresses the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, September 10, 2019.

Reuters/Denis Balibouse

KABUL/ISLAMABAD- Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi travelled to Kabul on Thursday for his first visit to the Afghan capital since the Taliban victory in August, following weeks of tension over transport links between the neighbouring countries.

Speaking outside the Afghan presidential palace after the meeting, Qureshi said the two sides held detailed talks on cross-border movement and trade, and that a Taliban delegation would visit Islamabad in the coming days to finalise the resolution of issues.

The visit comes after prolonged problems at the Chaman border crossing, one of the main trade transit points between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which has been closed for more than two weeks, causing severe problems for truckers and exporters.

In addition, Pakistan International Airlines, the only international airline that had been operating regularly in Kabul, last week suspended flights, complaining of interference and harassment of its staff by Taliban officials. 

Afghanistan's acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, standing alongside Qureshi, said a lot of progress had been made on outstanding issues.

The border closure has hurt Afghan fruit producers near the southern city of Kandahar, with pomegranates and other export produce left to rot because trucks cannot get through to their markets across the border.

The delegation included the head of the ISI intelligence service, Faiz Hameed, who visited Kabul in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the city.

Before the meeting, Pakistan's foreign ministry said in a statement that Qureshi would focus in his talks with Muttaqi and other Taliban leaders "on ways and means to deepen cooperation in diverse areas".

(Reporting by James Mackenzie in Islamabad and Gibran Peshimam in Kabul Editing by Gareth Jones) ((james.mackenzie@thomsonreuters.com; +39 02 66129533 ;))


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