NEW YORK - Afghanistan’s new President Ashraf Ghani wants to build "real and honest cooperation and friendship" during his visit to Islamabad later this week, his spokesman has said, according to a dispatch published in The Wall Street Journal on Sunday.

In the Kabul-datelined dispatch, the newspaper said that the visit was aimed at renewing ties with Pakistan, part of what Afghan and international officials describe as a multipronged effort to revive moribund peace talks with the Taliban.

"At stake is Afghanistan’s relationship with its nuclear-armed neighbour, which has historically played a role in Afghan affairs," the newspaper said. The visit follows travels by President Ghani to China and Saudi Arabia.

Nazifullah Salarzai, the Afghan President’s spokesman, the Afghan leader would visit Pakistan this week for an official meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. While officials are completing the agenda, Salarzai added, the talks will focus on bolstering economic ties and security cooperation.

“Afghanistan wants to have real and honest cooperation and friendship with this neighbouring country,” Salarzai said.

“As the President has said, we have this window of opportunity. We want this window to be transformed into a door, then into a corridor, and then into a highway.”

Ghani, who was inaugurated in September, faces many challenges on the foreign-policy front, but managing the relationship with his country’s powerful neighbour promises to be one of his biggest tests, WSJ said.

Afghanistan shares a porous, 1,500-mile-long border with its neighbour, and the Afghan Taliban have long used Pakistani territory as a headquarters and a recruiting base, it said.

Ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan were particularly strained under Ghani’s predecessor, former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who routinely accused Pakistan of providing support to the Taliban. Early last year, Pakistani, Afghan and British leaders laid out a timeline for seeking a peace deal with the Taliban, but those efforts foundered as Kabul and Islamabad traded accusations over cross-border shelling and other tensions.

Afghan officials and observers state that the inauguration of President Ghani offers a chance for the two countries to repair relations.

Simbal Khan, a security analyst based in Islamabad, said that the political and security issues between the two countries would take time to tackle, but progress could be made rapidly on improving trade and other economic linkages.

Since Ghani’s inauguration in late September, several top Pakistani officials have paid visits to Kabul.

Last month, Sartaj Aziz, the National Security and Foreign Affairs Adviser to PM Nawaz Sharif, met with the Afghan President. And last week, Gen. Raheel Sharif, Chief of Army Staff, travelled to the Afghan capital, where he met with Ghani and his top security advisers.

Afghan and international officials said that the meetings went well, and appeared to usher in more productive relations between the two neighbours, the Wall Street Journal said.

Ghani’s visits to Saudi Arabia and China were the first steps in reforging the relationship. The Afghan President saw both trips as an opportunity to ask the countries to encourage Pakistan to bring the Taliban into negotiations, the Journal cited diplomats and aides to President Ghani as stating.

Daud Sultanzoy, an Adviser to the Afghan President who travelled with the Afghan President to Saudi Arabia and China, said that the rise of the rise of Islamic State in the Middle East has lent new urgency to regional discussions about combating terrorism.

“The fact that Saudi Arabia and China have agreed to engage in this process is a major step,” Sultanzoy added.

However, Graeme Smith, a senior analyst with the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, was quoted as stating by WSJ that Nawaz Sharif’s influence is now limited after a series of demonstrations in Islamabad forced his government to cede control over national-security policy to the military.

“The key point here is that Pakistan’s civilian government needs to take control of its national security policy, and if that can happen, then may be we can have some better relations,” he said.