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imageWASHINGTON: President Barack Obama on Monday underscored the importance of greater dialogue between Pakistan and Afghanistan, describing it as critical to regional security.

"I want to commend Prime Minister David Cameron for his efforts to encourage greater dialogue between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which is critical to regional security," he said, addressing a joint Press Conference with British prime minister Cameron.

Obama's remarks came as Washington works to end the combat mission in Afghanistan by 2014 with transfer of security responsibility to Kabul. Washington wants Islamabad and Kabul to enhance their cooperation for regional stability and anti-terror success. But relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been strained because of border incidents in recent months.

The US-led allies see Pakistan's role as vital to end the war and for Afghanistan to achieve a successful political reconciliation. Meanwhile, after a successful election, Pakistan will have a new democratic government in Islamabad.

The leader of the largest party and two-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has expressed the desire to improve relations with Kabul. Afghan president Hamid Karzai called Sharif to congratulate on his victory in last weekend's poll.

At their White House meeting, the US president and the British leader reviewed progress in Afghanistan, Obama reaffirmed his pledge to end the war next year.

"As planned, Afghan forces will take the lead for security across the country soon -- this spring. US, British and coalition forces will move into a support role," Obama said.

"Our troops will continue to come home, and the war will end by the end of next year, even as we work with our Afghan partners to make sure that Afghanistan is never again a haven for terrorists who would attack our nations," Obama added.

Copyright APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), 2013

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