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Afghanistan-Pakistan dialogue to start in Islamabad

Pakistani and Afghan lawmakers, former officials, members of civil society and media will hold a three-day dialogue here from Monday to explore ways to bring ties closer, organizers said on Sunday.

Independent think tank the Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad and the Kabul-based Women & Peace Studies Organization will hold the talks at a time when tensions have affected bilateral official contacts.

The last week meeting of senior Pakistani and Afghan advisers in London led to the reopening of the border after nearly a month and both sides also agreed on “bilateral engagement.”

However, a follow-up meeting has not yet been held since the advisers’ meeting on March 15.

The civil delegates will also hold meetings with senior Pakistani officials including Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz and National Security Adviser Nasir Janjua. Some of them will also speak to students at two major universities.

Organizers said the dialogue aimed at developing understanding on the identified bilateral issues to help detox narratives, improve public perceptions, and mitigate mutual allegations and suspicions.

They said the members will act as bridge between the two governments to ensure continuation of bilateral conversation and promote and foster better people-to-people contacts between the two countries.

During their dialogue last month in Kabul, the Afghan and Pakistani members called on both countries to exercise restraint in the current situation in the larger interest of the people of the two countries.

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