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Afghan army cancels Pakistan visit over 'shelling'

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Afghanistan on Wednesday cancelled a planned army visit to Pakistan to protest against alleged cross border shelling, in a sign of worsening relations between the troubled neighbours.

The Pakistani army invited 11 Afghan officers to take part in a military exercise and drill in the southwestern city of Quetta, the Afghan ministry of foreign affairs said.

"This visit will no longer take place due to the resumption of unacceptable Pakistani artillery shelling against different parts of Kunar province," it said in a statement.

Kunar provincial governor Fazlulah Wahidi told AFP that up to 50 rockets, fired from the Pakistani side of the border, landed in two districts on Monday and Tuesday, damaging property.

A Pakistani military official told AFP it had "no details" of the cancellation and declined to give any other immediate response.

Afghanistan and Pakistan are deeply distrustful of each other and trade blame for Taliban violence plaguing both sides of their 2,400-kilometre (1,500-mile) border, known as the Durrand Line, drawn up by British colonialists.

Relations had recently improved, building up to a three-way summit hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron on February 4.

But since then, there have been a series of public accusations and fallings-out between Afghan and Pakistani officials.

Last month, organisers delayed a conference of Afghan and Pakistani religious scholars aimed at pushing forward the peace process due to disagreements.

The head of Pakistan's Ulema Council, Allama Tahir Ashrafi, said the meeting should not take place unless the Afghan Taliban were also invited.

He was then accused in the Afghan media of condoning the use of suicide attacks in an interview, in which he insists he was misunderstood.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130327/afghan-army-cancels-pakistan-visit-over-shelling