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Tuesday, 2 April, 2002, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Musharraf pledges support to Kabul
Interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf
The meeting marks a watershed in relations
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has pledged never again to allow his country to interfere in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.

Speaking alongside interim Afghan leader Hamid Karzai at a news conference in Kabul, General Musharraf said: "We will not allow each other's countries to be used against the interests [of one another]."

He also pledged to co-operate with Afghanistan's new administration in wiping out "terrorist sanctuaries" in the region.

General Musharraf - on his first visit there - said that he had "made it absolutely clear Pakistan has only one aim - to assist Afghanistan".

This assistance would be in areas such as counter-terrorism and the curbing of the local drugs trade.

Pakistan dropped its former Taleban allies in Afghanistan after the US launched its war against the Taleban and al-Qaeda last year.

Suspicion

Afghan refugees
Pakistan has pledged $100m in aid to Afghanistan

He met Mr Karzai amid tight security and is expected to return to Islamabad later on Tuesday.

The meeting marks a watershed for relations between the two countries.

Pakistan had originally been one of the few supporters of Afghanistan's now ousted Taleban regime, developing close links through its intelligence services.

However, last year General Musharraf decided to back the American-led war on terror following the 11 September attacks.

Nonetheless, many within the Kabul administration who opposed the Taleban remain deeply suspicious of Pakistan, accusing it of meddling in the country's affairs.

In the past Islamabad had backed the Taleban in its fight against Northern Alliance forces.

But General Musharraf has consistently reassured Afghanistan's new interim government that it has his full backing in rebuilding the country.

'Brotherly neighbour'

He has said that Pakistan is extremely interested in a stable, peaceful, united Afghanistan as a brotherly neighbour.

In a visit to Islamabad in February this year, Mr Karzai told journalists that Afghanistan's suspicion of Pakistan caused by its previous support for the Taleban was a thing of the past.

Mr Karzai also said that Afghanistan would release young Pakistanis captured while fighting for the Taleban regime if they had no direct involvement with terrorism.

Pakistan has since pledged $100m for the reconstruction of Afghanistan and is keen to have some kind of role in development work there.

Pakistan also wants to encourage the repatriation of nearly two million Afghan refugees who have been living in the country for the past two decades.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Rupert Wingfield Hayes
"Both leaders made it clear it is time to put the past behind them"
See also:

01 Apr 02 | Americas
Key Bin Laden deputy 'captured'
31 Mar 02 | South Asia
Date set for key Afghan forum
27 Nov 01 | South Asia
Pakistan's fear of exclusion
30 Mar 02 | South Asia
Karzai thanks coalition troops
29 Mar 02 | South Asia
US staff leave Pakistan
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