Pakistan Afghanistan discuss border tensions after clashes

AP News
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Posted: Jun 20, 2016 5:51 AM

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan and Afghanistan held talks Monday in Islamabad on last week's deadly border clashes that killed two Afghan border guards and a Pakistani officer. A statement after the meeting said both nations emphasized the need to create a mechanism for consulting one another on border issues.

The two neighbors last week traded several bouts of deadly gunfire and artillery at the Torkham border after Pakistan started building a fence on its side, each side accusing the other of starting the violence.

Afghanistan does not recognize the present boundary, the so-called Durand Line, as an international border. After the clashes had stopped, Pakistan reopened the crossing on Saturday, allowing thousands of stranded travelers to cross.

The six-member Afghan delegation, led by Afghanistan's deputy foreign minister, Hekmat Khalil Karzai, was welcomed in Islamabad by Pakistan's Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry. A Pakistani ministry statement after the meeting said that effective border management remains vital for promoting peace, countering terrorism and strengthening relations between the two countries.

Pakistan shares a nearly 2,600 kilometer (1,625 mile) -long border with Afghanistan and Islamic militants operate on both sides of the border. The Pakistani military had earlier said that there had been incursions by militants from across the Torkham border lately, which prompted authorities to implement more effective border control.

The Torkham crossing also closed last month over a similar incident and only reopened following a meeting between Pakistan's army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif and Afghan Ambassador Omar Zakhilwal.