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Pakistan foreign minister makes first trip to Kabul since Taliban takeover

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By Reuters
Pakistan foreign minister makes first trip to Kabul since Taliban takeover
Pakistan foreign minister makes first trip to Kabul since Taliban takeover   -   Copyright  Thomson Reuters 2021

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi arrived in 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 two neighbouring countries.

Qureshi will focus in his talks with Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and other Taliban leaders “on ways and means to deepen cooperation in diverse areas”, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

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.

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.

“The Foreign Minister’s visit reflects Pakistan’s consistent policy of supporting the brotherly Afghan people, deepening bilateral trade and economic relations, and facilitating closer people-to-people contacts,” the ministry statement said.

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.