Sharif to visit Ankara ahead of Afghanistan summit

February 03, 2014 - 10:30:29 am
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will fly to Turkey on February 12 ahead of the crucial trilateral summit that will be attended by the leaders of Pakistan, Afghanistan and host Turkey.

The summit — the eighth of its kind since 2007 — is being held against the backdrop of the planned withdrawal of the bulk of US troops from Afghanistan this year, President Hamid Karzai’s reluctance to sign a security pact with Washington and the presidential elections in the war-torn country.

According to the proposed schedule for the visit, Sharif will reach Ankara on the afternoon of February 12.

Turkey’s President Abduallah Gul will host a dinner at the Presidential Palace for the participants in the meeting the same day.

On February 13, Sharif will have separate bilateral meetings with Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul in the morning. This will be followed by his joint meeting with Presidents Gul and Karzai, and Premier Erdogan in the afternoon.

Two sessions of the trilateral summit, one of which will be restricted while the other will be a plenary session, will take place in the afternoon the same day. The three countries’ heads of government will hold a joint press conference and announce a joint statement once these sessions conclude.

When contacted, the Foreign Office spokesperson said it is premature to comment on the possible outcome of the summit. In response to a question as to whether any bilateral meeting between Premier Nawaz and President Karzai would take place on the sidelines of the summit, the spokesperson said certain details were still being worked out.