Karzai seeks aid in fight against terror
Istanbul - Afghan President Hamid Karzai warned on Wednesday that there would be no hope for peace in his war-ravaged nation without help from its neighbours to combat "terror groups".
"Terrorist networks are by far the major threat to Afghanistan's security," Karzai said at a global conference in Istanbul aimed at mapping out his country's future.
"They continue to have sanctuaries outside of our border from where they conduct their merciless campaign of destruction," he said.
"Unless regional cooperation is assured to address the core and root of this issue peace in Afghanistan will remain elusive."
Representatives from some 20 countries have joined aid agency members at the one-day Istanbul meeting, being held almost 10 years after the Taliban militia were driven out of power in Kabul by a US-led coalition.
But the hardline Islamists remain a deadly force in Afghanistan, continuing to wage attacks against Afghan, US and Nato forces.
Kabul, like Washington, has complained that Islamabad is not doing enough against the Taliban and al-Qaeda whose militants have found refuge in Pakistani tribal areas on the Afghan border.
"When it comes to terrorism, a threat that targets not only Afghanistan, but other countries in the region and the world, we require the sincere, result-oriented cooperation of all of our neighbours... and particularly the Islamic Republic of Pakistan," Afghan foreign ministry spokesperson Janan Mosazai told AFP.
The Istanbul talks are intended to chart the way ahead for Afghanistan, with the US-led Nato mission already locked into military drawdowns that are scheduled to bring all foreign combat troops home by 2014.
Mosazai said the conference, which was continuing behind closed doors, was also discussing regional issues such as "terrorism, extremism, narcotics, human trafficking and organised crime".
Karzai had been expected to announce new areas in up to 17 provinces in Afghanistan that would transfer from Nato to Afghan security control in the second phase of a handover process launched in July.
However, Mosazai said the plans would not be unveiled on Wednesday in Istanbul but in the near future.
The Istanbul gathering is taking place a day after a trilateral summit hosted by Gul brought together the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan in a bid to ease tensions between the two neighbours.
Tuesday's talks saw Afghanistan and Pakistan agree to cooperate with an investigation into the September assassination of former Afghan leader and peace negotiator Burhanuddin Rabbani.
Kabul has accused Islamabad of refusing to cooperate in the probe of the murder, which Afghan authorities say was planned in Pakistan and committed by a Pakistani suicide bomber.
Pakistan was the Taliban's chief diplomatic backer when it was in power and is repeatedly accused by both Kabul and Washington of attempting to destabilise its northern neighbour.
The Taliban's resilience was again underlined on Saturday when it killed at least 17 people in a car bomb attack on a Nato convoy in Kabul, the deadliest attack yet on international forces in the Afghan capital.
Absent from Wednesday's conference was US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who cancelled after the death of her mother and was replaced by her deputy William Burns.
Clinton has said Washington is now pursuing a three-pronged strategy of "fight, talk, build", but with the Taliban still mounting high-profile attacks, there has been little public evidence of their willingness to talk.
The United States provides more than two-thirds of a total of 140 000 foreign troops currently in Afghanistan.
As well as the US, the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council - Britain, China, France and Russia - are taking part in the talks, along with US arch-rival Iran which shares a long border with western Afghanistan.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said the situation in Afghanistan had not improved over the 10 years since the US-led invasion in the wake of the September 11 attacks of 2001.
"There has been no decrease in terrorist activities there and the killing of innocent people continues," he said, according to a statement carried by Iran's official IRNA news agency.
He also voiced Iran's opposition to a proposed US-Afghan strategic pact.