Cross-border violence in the main problem in Afghan-Pakistani talks

Afghanistan is expected to press Pakistan on stopping Taliban rebels launching cross-border attacks and suicide bombings when leaders of the neighboring countries meet in Islamabad on Wednesday, officials said. Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrived Wednesday afternoon on a two-day visit, including talks with his counterpart Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who last year vowed to fight terrorism and help rebuild the war-ravaged country.

A spate of recent suicide attacks that Afghan officials believe were planned in Pakistan, claiming dozens of lives, have soured relations, always touchy because of Afghan assertions that Taliban rebels find sanctuary in Pakistan. Karzai will urge Pakistan to show the same commitment to defeat Taliban rebels based on its side of the rugged frontier as it does in fighting al-Qaida, his spokesman Khaleeq Ahmed said Tuesday.

Over the weekend, the chief of Afghanistan 's spy agency, the National Security Directorate, appeared to blame Pakistan in comments to the Afghan parliament. "Our government should pressure other countries, especially one country in particular, where there are training camps, stockpiles of explosives and financial support," Amarullah Saleh said.

Asadullah Khalid, the governor of Kandahar province, a former Taliban stronghold, said last week that Pakistan was behind a recent spate of suicide bombings in the province and that many of the attackers were Pakistanis.

Pakistan , a former supporter of the Taliban but now a key U.S. ally in the war on terror, has deployed 70,000 troops along the Afghan border, and says it does its best to stop cross-border attacks. And it has complaints of its own about the situation along the frontier.

The issue of Pakistani civilian casualties from rockets and artillery fire originating from Afghanistan will be raised with Karzai , Pakistan 's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said Monday. Rockets or shells reportedly fired from Afghanistan last weekend hit a nomad family's tent in Pakistan 's North Waziristan tribal area, killing two women and injuring at least four children.

Before Karzai's arrival, Pakistan on Wednesday released 562 Afghans who had been jailed in the southern port city of Karachi for up to six months as part of a crackdown on illegal immigration, a prison official said. Karzai is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Thursday before he returns to Kabul on Friday, reports the AP.


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