ANKARA, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- The 8th Turkey-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Summit here focused mainly on boosting security in Afghanistan on the eve of its general elections and the NATO's pullout from the country.
Afghanistan Ambassador to Turkey Amanullah Jayhoon said Saturday that the main topics of the summit were measures to restore peace and promote reconciliation in his country and the region at large.
At the end of the meeting, Turkish President Abdullah Gul, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, issued a joint statement, expressing their common resolve to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
The emphasis on combatting terror has been a consistent message since the three countries agreed in their first summit in 2007 that sanctuary, training and financing for terrorists must be rejected.
However, the new statement shows more urgency in this regard as the Afghanistan presidential and provincial council elections will take place in April. On top of that, the U.S.-led NATO troops are expected to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of the year. Whether the new Afghanistan government alone can undertake the security and economic challenges is a deep concern.
The leaders of the three countries all expressed that "peace and stability of Afghanistan is critical for peace and stability of the whole region."
Turkish President Abdullah Gul has stated that Turkey will always support Pakistan and Afghanistan, adding that the cooperation of neighboring countries is crucial for the maintenance of security and stability in Afghanistan.
TURKEY PLAYS KEY ROLE
"Terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan was the main concern," Abdullah Bozkurt, a Turkish analyst, told Xinhua. "As a country respected both countries and suffering tragic consequences of terrorism for years, Turkey is a best mediator to reconcile the differences between Pakistan and Afghanistan."
On commenting Turkey's role in the summit, Afghan President Hamid Karzai noted that progress in many common areas has been made through Turkey's support and facilitating role.
For his part, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said: " Pakistan appreciates the steps Turkey has taken for the establishment of sustainable peace in the heart of Asia."
He also reaffirmed Pakistan's strong and sincere commitment to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan through an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process.
The summit brought top military and intelligence officers among three countries to work out plans agreed by the leaders.
"The format of the summit where not only leaders but also ministers, chiefs of general staff and heads of intelligence agencies meet is quite unique," Mehmet Seyfettin Erol, the head of Ankara's International Strategic and Security Research Center, told Xinhua.
"This format shows that Turkey has a considerable political capital to spend on both sides, which promotes the progress on tough issues between the two neighbors in the heart of Asia," he said.
MORE ECONOMIC COOPERATION
The summit also discussed increased economic cooperation among three countries and welcomed efforts of Pakistan and Afghanistan to build a broader relationship with strengthened trade and economic ties.
The joint statement also drew attention to "joint projects for socioeconomic development which would serve as an important asset in building mutual trust and solidarity in the region."
Hikmet Cetin, the former Turkish foreign minister and former NATO senior civilian representative in Afghanistan, said the stability and peace with enhanced cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan will be of great importance from an economic point of view.
"The shortest route to the sea for Central Asian countries passes through Afghanistan and Pakistan. When their stability and security are restored, these two countries can be transit countries for gas and oil shipments. This will not only secure energy for the two countries, but also provide important economic gains," Cetin stated.