Trilateral meeting on Afghanistan today

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Saturday, 16 Jan, 2010 Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta (C) speaks as Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi (R) and Iran's Foreign Affairs Minister Manouchehr Mottaki (L) look on during a news conference in Kabul.-Reuters/File ISLAMABAD: Foreign ministers of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan are meeting here on Saturday for consultations on the London Conference to be held later this month to reinforce political process in the war-torn country.

The foreign ministers will also focus on a British-backed plan to set up a regional structure for coordinating international efforts to resolve the Afghan imbroglio.

The setting up of a resettlement fund for supporting a peace and reintegration programme in Afghanistan, as an outcome of the London Conference, will also be discussed.

The trilateral meeting is being held under a process launched in May last year by the presidents of the three countries to facilitate regular consultations on eradicating extremism, terrorism and drugs from Afghanistan and enhancing security, political and economic cooperation in the region.

With the London Conference less than a fortnight away, the three countries decided to skip a conference of their foreign secretaries that was to precede the ministerial meeting.

"We feel that immediate neighbours of Afghanistan should have convergence of views on issues affect- ing them," a senior diplomat said.

Pakistan is opposed to giving any role to extra-regional powers in discussions on peace and security in Afghanistan and has criticised the proposal for 'Regional Stabilisation Council'.

Islamabad's opposition is primarily based on its concerns over possible inclusion of India in the proposed regional structure.

Iran is also against such a regional body, albeit for different reasons. However, Afghanistan, one of the co-hosts of the London Conference supports the idea.

Senior diplomats are hopeful that the three countries will be able to develop consensus on the issue.

Another regional meeting involving Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan is being held on Jan 25 in Istanbul to discuss ways of supporting efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan.

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