Afghan President Ashraf Ghani calls on greater engagement with Pakistan

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani talks with Fareed Zakaria during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos. (Reuters)
Updated 24 January 2019

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani calls on greater engagement with Pakistan

  • Ghani said he had spoken to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan but warned that Islamabad still needed to remove the “shadow of violence”
  • President played down talk of a breakthrough in talks between the Taliban and US officials in Doha

LONDON: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on Thursday he wants greater engagement with Pakistan as he claimed his country was “turning a corner.”

Ghani said he had spoken to Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Imran Khan but warned that Islamabad still needed to remove the “shadow of violence” in the country.

Pakistan has long been accused of aiding militant groups, including the Taliban, in Afghanistan. Many believe that improved relations between Kabul and Islamabad are crucial to peace in the country.

“Afghanistan wants an engagement with Pakistan,” Ghani said during a conversation with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria at the World Economic Forum in Davos. But he said that the countries needed to engage on the “issue of terrorism.” Ghani said improved relations could also make Afghanistan a stabilising force in Pakistan.

His comments came as a fourth day of talks between the Taliban and US officials were held in Qatar on Thursday. But Ghani played down speculation of a breakthrough amid frustration from Afghan leaders that they are being left out of the process.

Ghani played down talk of a breakthrough in talks between the Taliban and US officials in Doha at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “There’s discussion. But this discussion needs to be shared back (with the Afghan government),” he continued, adding that if not it “will not last.”

But he remained optimistic that the country was on the right track to bringing an end to the 17-year war with the Taliban, which still involves thousands of US troops.

“By 2024 Afghanistan will be self reliant,” Ghani said.

Afghanistan’s de facto prime minister Abdullah Abdullah also expressed his frustration at the talks in Doha, saying the Taliban are persisting in excluding his government from the negotiations

“The peace process cannot take place by proxy,” he said in Davos.

The Taliban have launched a series of attacks in recent weeks as they continue to strengthen their position in the country - now controlling about half the territory.

The insurgents killed dozens of Afghan forces this week in an attack on a military base in Wardak province.


Philippines and India agree to strengthen defense, security ties

In this handout photograph taken and released by Indian Presidential Palace on October 18, 2019, India's President Ram Nath Kovind (C-L) attends a press conference with Philippines' President Rodrigo Duterte (C-R) at Malacanan Palace in Manila. (AFP)
Updated 20 October 2019

Philippines and India agree to strengthen defense, security ties

  • The two leaders agreed to strengthen maritime security ties

MANILA: The Philippines and India have agreed to boost defense and security cooperation following talks between President Rodrigo Duterte and his Indian counterpart Ram Nath Kovind on Friday.
Kovind is in Manila as part of a five-day official visit to the Philippines that began on Thursday.
In a joint statement, Duterte said he and Kovind have committed to building a “partnership” between the Philippines and India “that enables us to face challenges to our hard-won progress, jointly and effectively.”
As Duterte welcomed India’s role in his country’s defense capability upgrade program, against the backdrop of growing security cooperation, he said they have agreed “to continue working together to fight terrorism and violent extremism and other transboundary threats.”
Kovind said “both of our countries have been victims of terrorism,” and the two leaders “committed to work closely to defeat and eliminate terrorism in all its forms
and manifestations.”
He added: “As two vibrant democracies that believe in a rules-based international order, respect for international law and sovereign equality of nations, the Philippines and India are natural partners in the pursuit of their respective national development and security objectives.”
The two leaders also agreed to strengthen maritime security ties.
“As countries strategically located in the Pacific and Indian oceans, we affirmed our shared interest to protect our maritime commons and advance the rule of law in our maritime domains,” Duterte said.

BACKGROUND

Indian President Ram Nath Kovind said ‘both of our countries have been victims of terrorism,’ and the two leaders ‘committed to work closely to defeat and eliminate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.’

He added that they also discussed “the most pressing concerns of our region and beyond, such as maritime security and economic integration.”
Following their meeting, they witnessed the signing of maritime, tourism, science, technology and cultural agreements.
Among them was a memorandum of understanding between the Philippine Coast Guard and the Indian Navy to enhance maritime security by sharing information on nonmilitary and nongovernment shipping vessels between the two countries.
“With the signing of bilateral agreements, we have likewise widened the path toward enhancement of our engagement in maritime security, science and technology, tourism and cultural cooperation,” Duterte said.
“We hope to look back on this day as a milestone in our relations, the day when we set out to turn promise into reality, and potential into concrete benefits that bring the greatest positive impact on the lives of our peoples.”