Pakistan on Thursday welcomed the leaders of Afghanistan and Iran for a regional summit at a key juncture in peace efforts with the Taliban and amid rising tensions between Tehran and Israel. Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad flew into Islamabad in the afternoon for a formal summit meeting scheduled on Friday to be followed by a joint news conference, Pakistan government officials said. Afghan President Hamid Karzai arrived earlier in the day for a series of talks with the government and the military on his second visit in nine months. His office said separate talks with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani would focus on expanding relations, economic ties and “enhanced cooperation” on ending 10 years of war in Afghanistan. Pakistan’s army chief General Ashfaq Kayani and senior government ministers were also present, officials said. Karzai termed Pakistan’s support as “critical to the success” of an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process and the reconciliation. Pakistan, the historic ally of the Taliban, says it will do anything required by Kabul to support an Afghan-led peace process, but there is a wide degree of scepticism in Afghanistan and the United States about its sincerity. “Both sides agreed on the need to strengthen mutual cooperation to overcome the common challenges of terrorism and extremism and expressed their resolve to work for the stability and peace of both the countries,” Gilani’s office said. Karzai hailed his trip to Pakistan as one of the most important in the past 10 years, his office said. “He thanked Pakistan for cooperation in the investigation of the assassination of Professor Rabbani in which two suspects have been arrested,” it said.