Kabul - Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said that he will visit Pakistan on June 27 in an effort to improve bilateral relations that are often hampered by mistrust and reciprocal accusations.

Ghani said the visit was agreed on after he met Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan last week on the sidelines of a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation in Saudi Arabia.

“I hope the visit will be positive,” Ghani said in his message to mark Eidul Fitr on Tuesday. Both countries hope to remove irritants who undermine efforts for peace in Afghanistan. Ghani said his visit to have better relations with the neighbouring country and mend ties that are often characterised by mistrust and tit-for-tat accusations.

Ghani during his Eid remarks said he has accepted Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s invitation and that he will visit Islamabad on June 27.

Ghani also said that he had a productive meeting with Imran Khan in Saudi Arabia last week but still need practical steps. “Introductory meetings are not required; there should be practical meetings,” Ghani said. President Ghani met Prime Minister Khan on June 1 on the sidelines of the 14th summit of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Saudi Arabia and discussed the Afghan peace process and bilateral ties. 

Imran Khan assured Ghani that Islamabad will support Kabul in bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan, the Pakistani Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement. “Prime Minister Imran Khan reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to a peaceful and stable Afghanistan. He also underlined Pakistan’s firm support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process for political solution in Afghanistan,” the statement said.

The statement added that Ghani and Khan will further discuss security and economic issues in the forthcoming visit of the Afghan president to Islamabad.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Palace in a statement said that Ghani and Khan also discussed issues around regional connectivity as well as trade and transit. The statement said that Khan promised to resolve the problem over the closure of Pakistan airspace to Afghan flights between Kabul and New Delhi.

Kabul has been long accused Pakistan of harbouring Taliban militants who launch attacks inside Afghanistan, but Ghani said he was hopeful that years of mistrust can be replaced by mutual trust and cooperation toward peace.

Last week, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US envoy seeking a peace deal with the Taliban, held talks in Islamabad with senior Pakistani officials, including Khan and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Pakistan has recently offered support to US efforts to broker an end to Afghanistan’s almost 18-year-long war.

Khalilzad has held several rounds of talks with the militants in Qatar. The sides have made progress, but the Taliban have so far rejected direct negotiations with Kabul.