WORLD

'Pakistan, Turkey share common stance on Afghanistan'

PAKISTAN, TURKEY SHARE COMMON STANCE ON AFGHANISTAN

Pakistan's Foreign Minister said Tuesday that a common stance is needed in the region against the new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

"We have talked to friendly countries in the region and decided that we need to take a common stance [against Donald Trump's policy]," Khawaja Asif told Anadolu Agency at the airport in capital Ankara, as he left for Pakistan.

On Tuesday, Asif met President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoğlu during his one-day visit to Turkey.

Bilateral cooperation in trade, economy and defense was discussed in the meetings, alongside regional issues, in particular Afghanistan, Asif said.

He added that both Turkey and Pakistan were against a military solution to Afghanistan.

"We hope for an approach which focuses on peace in Afghanistan. Not the way [American] President Trump has declared that they want to kill the terrorists, and not participate in development in Afghanistan," he said.

Last month, Trump announced a new phase in the 16-year campaign in Afghanistan, which, while short on detail, pledged further U.S. military involvement against the Taliban.

Trump also criticized Pakistan for providing "safe havens for terrorist organizations" and called on Pakistan's regional rival India to become further involved in Afghanistan.

The apparent switch from Pakistan, a long-standing U.S. ally, to India led to the cancellation of three high-level meetings with U.S. officials by Islamabad and the passing of a resolution in parliament criticizing Washington's new policy as hostile and threatening.

"Taliban do not need a safe haven in Pakistan. Americans have given them 40 percent of Afghan territory in the last 15 years. So the Americans have provided them safe havens, not Pakistan," Asif said.

Asif also pledged support to Turkey in its fight against the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO), which the Turkish governments says orchestrated the failed coup last July.

"The terrorists in Turkey, the Gulenist mafia, are our enemies. We stand with our Turkish brother in the fight against terrorism," he said.

According to the Turkish government, FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 250 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary.

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