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ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi called for engaging with the Afghan government and Taliban for taking them onboard before pursuing a proposal of handing over the security of Kabul Airport to Turkey.

“It is important to engage with Afghan government and Taliban to tell them the objective of their proposal. They should get them onboard before actually going about doing it,” the foreign minister told CNN Turkey on Saturday during his visit to attend Antalya Diplomacy Forum.

He said he would like to hear out his Turkish counterpart in scheduled meeting on Sunday on what was the proposal and the details about the plan.

He said in his view, Turkey was providing services including soldiers to keep the airport open and maintain Kabul’s connection with the world.

Asked whether Turkish government had not shared the proposal with Pakistan, Qureshi said, “No, I haven’t formally heard from them.”

Qureshi said that after the postponement of high level conference on Afghan peace process in April, he decided to visit Istanbul to hold trilateral meeting with Turkish and Afghan foreign ministers to discuss the way forward vis-à-vis peace process

“We are in touch. In my view the conference was a good initiative. It should have happened and Pakistan had supported it. And if they agree to hold one, we will continue to be supporting that,” he remarked.

About the upcoming visit of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to US, Qureshi said they will engage with the American and hoped that it would be a positive and constructive meeting with the leadership not involving in blame game.

To another question, the foreign minister said Pakistan and Turkey had “excellent” bilateral relations as the two peoples loved each other.

Talking to Azeri media, the foreign minister said Pakistan and Azerbaijan enjoyed cordial bilateral relationship and recalled the visit of Azeri counterpart to Islamabad when they discussed the future trajectory of the bilateral ties. He said he was delighted to know that the Pakistani flags were also hoisted along with the Azerbaijan’s after the country got victory in the Nagorno-Karabakh war.

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