Mamnoon to visit Kabul as tensions simmer


ISLAMABAD: Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain will visit Kabul on Thursday to participate in the Nawroz festival, his first visit to Afghanistan since taking office in September, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry announced on Wednesday.
The one-day visit comes after the Afghan government hinted that Pakistani intelligence may have played a role in deadly attacks in Kabul last week - a suggestion Pakistan vehemently denied. 
Nawroz, the Persian New Year, is a major holiday in Afghanistan.
“At the invitation of President Hamid Karzai, President Mamnoon Hussain will be visiting Afghanistan on 27 March 2014 to participate in the Nawroz Festival,” said a statement by the foreign ministry.
“The President’s visit is part of the efforts to strengthen bilateral relations with Afghanistan in all dimensions and support efforts for durable peace, stability and prosperity in the region,” the ministry said. 
Besides Hussain, leaders from the region, in particular from Central and West Asia, have also been invited by the Afghan government to attend the Nawroz celebrations. 
“On the sidelines, the President will be interacting with the other participating leaders, during which bilateral matters and regional issues of peace and security and trade and economic cooperation are expected to figure,” the statement said. Pakistan is seen as crucial to securing peace in neighbouring Afghanistan as it was a key backer of the hardline 1996-2001 Taliban regime in Kabul and is believed still to shelter some of the movement’s leaders.

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