Why was China left out of the party?:happy_3: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey to hold joint military drills http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101224/wl_afp/turkeyafghanistanpakistandiplomacy Video:Turkey hosts Karzai and Zardari talks Reuters â€“ Fri Dec 24, 3:08 pm ET ISTANBUL (AFP) â€“ Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey agreed Friday to hold joint military drills next year as part of Ankara's bridge-building efforts between troubled neighbours Kabul and Islamabad. "As a result of the work that our armed forces have done so far, a joint exercise will be held in April 2011," Turkish President Abdullah Gul said in televised remarks. Gul was speaking after trilateral talks with his counterparts Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan in Istanbul. It was the fifth such meeting since 2007 when Turkey, NATO's sole Muslim-majority member, launched the initiative to push Afghanistan and Pakistan to enhance cooperation against Islamist insurgents and improve ties poisoned by the insecurity plaguing their rugged border. Gul said the three countries' interior and foreign ministers as well as intelligence and military officials held separate cooperation talks during and ahead of the gathering in Istanbul. "We are happy to see that important progress has been made," he said. Gul did not elaborate on the planned drills, but a joint statement issued after the talks said a "trilateral military live exercise on urban warfare" had been scheduled for March 19-27 in Istanbul. "We are looking forward to a successful exercise, which will constitute a stepping stone for closer cooperation," the statement said. "Contacts between high-level military officials as well as intelligence experts contribute to our efforts to fight terrorism and extremism. This cooperation shall be continued and rendered even more result-oriented," it added. Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have been plagued by mutual suspicion, although bilateral ties have recently improved. Taliban insurgents fighting against the Western-backed government in Kabul have rear bases in Pakistan, where Afghan and US officials say their leaders enjoy at least some measure of protection from Pakistan. The powerful Pakistani military is often accused of continuing to foster the Afghan Taliban it spawned during the 1980s resistance to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Islamabad flatly denies any collusion and says more than 2,420 of its soldiers have been killed fighting Islamist militants since 2002. The three presidents agreed to set up "a trilateral direct video-telephone conference line in support of increased dialogue," the statement said. Turkey also pledged to organise joint programmes for counter-narcotics officers from Afghanistan and Pakistan. Responding to a reporter's question, Karzai spoke of suggestions that the Taliban open a representation office in Turkey or another impartial country "to facilitate reconciliation" in the war-torn country, Anatolia news agency reported. Kabul, he said, would be happy if Turkey could provide such a venue. Gul said he was not aware of such suggestions but stressed that Turkey "will do anything that would contribute to stability and security in Afghanistan," according to Anatolia. On Thursday, Karzai and Zerdari had attended a regional economic cooperation summit in Istanbul, along with counterparts from Azerbaijan, Iran, and Central Asian states. ++ Turkey hosts Pakistan-Afghan talks http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2010/12/201012241303321628.html Three countries to hold joint military exercises in April, agree to cooperate on anti-narcotics operations. Last Modified: 24 Dec 2010 20:01 GMT The trilateral summit aims to ease relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan [Reuters] Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan will hold joint military exercises as part of efforts to build trust between Kabul and Islamabad, the Turkish President said on Friday. The manoeuvres will be staged in April 2011, said President Abdullah Gul. He gave no further details, but a Turkish government official involved in the talks said the exercises would be staged in Tuzla, 50km south of Istanbul. The official spoke on condition of anonymity, as he was not authorised to speak to the media. Responding to a question, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he had discussed with "dignitaries close to the Taliban movement'' the possibility of the group opening a facility in Turkey or another country "in order to facilitate reconciliation'' between Afghanistan and the Taliban. Karzai said Afghanistan would be "pleased" for such a "facility to take place in Turkey". Gul did not address the issue directly, but said that his country was ready to contribute to initiatives that would help stability and security in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Gul and Karzai's comments came at the end of the fifth round of Turkish-sponsored talks between the Pakistani and Afghan Presidents, aimed at reducing tensions over militant attacks along the countries' border. The presidents of the three countries oversaw the signing of several agreements at the summit, including one on anti-narcotics cooperation between police forces. The three also agreed to hold a regular video conference. The agenda for the talks had included analysis of recent regional developments and a review of previous meetings between the countries' intelligence chiefs. Talks follow ECO summit Earlier, Gul said the summit between the three countries was being held to "enhance peace and development" between Kabul and Islamabad. Turkish president Gul and prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan earlier met separately with Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari and his Afghan counterpart, Karzai. The trilateral talks follow a summit meeting of the 10-member Economic Co-operation Organisation (ECO) which concluded in Istanbul on Thursday. The organisation, which includes Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as Iran and other Central Asian states, aims to build closer trade ties between Asian and Middle Eastern countries. Established in 1985 by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey, it seeks to promote economic, technical and cultural co-operation between the member states.