Karzai to visit Pakistan to discuss Afghan peace process

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said Thursday that "peace and reconciliation" and Pakistan's role in reviving the peace process in Afghanistan will top the agenda during Afghan President Hamid Karzai's visit here next week.

Spokesman Chaudri Aitzaz Ahmad told a news briefing the two sides will focus on bilateral relations, regional security, and ways to improve assistance to Afghanistan's High Peace Council, which Karzai's government set up in 2010 to foster reconciliation in Afghanistan.

"The government of Pakistan has decided that it would support the peace and reconciliation process and whatever steps we deem necessary will be taken," he said, responding to a question on whether Pakistan would release Mullah Bradar, an aide to Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar.

Pakistan has detained an unspecified number of Afghan Taliban and repeatedly said it would release them.

Islamabad has in the past released Taliban at the request of Karzai, who says such releases are essential in bringing insurgents to the negotiating table.

"How many Taliban prisoners are to be released is a decision the Interior Ministry has to make," Ahmad said.

The spokesman said that the exact date of Karzai's visit is still being finalized, but it will take place next week. According to media reports, the visit is scheduled for Monday.