Turkey plans support for Pakistan and Afghanistan

Turkish officials plan two international gatherings aimed at boosting support for the conflict-torn nations.

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Turkey plans to host two international gatherings in the coming months aimed at boosting support for conflict-torn Pakistan and Afghanistan, the foreign ministry said today. The first meeting, planned for September, will bring together the Friends of Pakistan group, which aims to help Pakistan's economic development as a means of stabilising the restive country, the ministry spokesman Burak Ozugergin said.

The group includes the United Arab Emirates, Britain, France, Germany, Japan, the United States, China, Canada, Turkey, Australia and Italy plus the United Nations and the European Union. In November, Turkey will also host a meeting of countries neighbouring Afghanistan to discuss how to help the war-ravaged country, Mr Ozugergin said, adding that the details of both gathering were yet to be outlined.

Turkey, a Nato member, has had traditionally close ties with both Afghanistan and Pakistan and has since 2007 hosted three meetings between their presidents in a bid to encourage the two countries to overcome their differences and co-operate against extremists. Separately, Mr Ozugergin said Turkey's embassy in Islamabad had been designated as a contact point between Pakistan and Nato last month. "The embassy's mission will be to help the political dialogue and co-operation between Nato and Pakistan... and to provide information about Nato to the Pakistani public opinion," he said.

Extremists opposed to Islamabad's decision to side with the US-led "war on terror" in neighbouring Afghanistan have carried out bombings and other attacks that have claimed hundreds of lives. They have also targeted Nato convoys carrying supplies to foreign forces fighting against the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. *AFP