ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and Afghanistan on Wednesday agreed to build cooperation and meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) this month.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif spoke with his Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani over the telephone to discuss bilateral issues, said a statement released here by the foreign ministry.

For years, Kabul has been accusing Pakistan of sheltering militants who allegedly carry out terror activities in Afghanistan. Pakistan and Afghanistan have also handed over lists of alleged training centres to each other seeking action.

Amid tension earlier this year, Pakistan forces even moved heavy artillery and military equipment closer to Pak-Afghan border to stop infiltration and destroy the militants’ hideouts along the frontier after Afghanistan fired inside Pakistan.

Later, the two countries said they did not want any confrontation.

The tension intensified between the neighbours after Jamaatul Ahrar claimed responsibility of the recent wave of terror in Pakistan.

Islamabad asked Kabul to act against the militants hiding along the border, which was not satisfactorily responded.  However, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani recently said he wanted to hold talks with Pakistan and resolve all the issues through the dialogue process.  Pakistan welcomed the statement saying Islamabad had always supported a negotiated settlement of the bilateral issues.

During the telephonic conversation, Khawaja Asif and Salahuddin Rabbani agreed to “remain engaged for building closer cooperation between the two countries. They also agreed to meet on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York, later this month,” said the statement.

“The former [Asif] conveyed that Pakistan attaches great importance to its relations with Afghanistan and is prepared to work with Afghanistan in all fields including political, economic, trade and transit, security, and other fields for the progress and prosperity of the two countries,” the statement added.  The foreign minister also underlined Pakistan’s support for Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process for bringing lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Khawaja Asif will fly to Beijing tomorrow (September 8th) to discuss the foreign policy and the future strategy.

Yesterday, spokesperson of Chinese foreign ministry Geng Shuang said Khawaja Asif would hold discussions on “bilateral relations, regional and international issues of mutual interest.” Asif will hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi as well as other Chinese leaders, Shuang said.

He said Khawaja Asif would be visiting China on the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

Asif said China and Pakistan were all-weather strategic partners, adding, “the two sides have seen their relationship growing with sound momentum, frequent high-level exchanges and fruitful outcome of practical cooperation.”

The spokesperson said that the visit of Khawaja Asif would be another important event between the two friendly countries which would further help implement the cooperation consensus reached between the two leaders.

Shuang said Pak-China cooperation centred on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

The tour of the important regional countries comes after United States President Donald Trump’s anti-Pakistan speech last month.

The foreign minister will also visit Russia, Iran and Turkey before joining Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for a US visit to address the United Nations General Assembly on September 21 or 23.

Pakistan foreign ministry officials said Asif would discuss Trump’s speech with the Chinese and other regional leaders.  Other regional issues were also on the agenda, said an official.