Senior officials meeting of Heart of Asia kicks off in Islamabad

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Senior officials of the Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process started their meeting in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad on Tuesday to finalize the agenda for a ministerial conference to be held on Wednesday.
  Pakistan's foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz and Afghan deputy foreign minister Khalil Hekmat Karzai jointly inaugurated the day-long Senior Officials Meeting.
   Speaking at the opening session, both Aziz and Karzai expressed hope that the ministerial conference will help in evolving strategy against the threat of terrorism and extremism. They also favored economic cooperation and regional connectivity.
   Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will jointly inaugurate the Fifth Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process Ministerial Conference in Islamabad on Dec. 9.
   The theme of the conference is "Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process: Enhanced Cooperation for Countering Security Threats and Promoting Connectivity in the Heart of Asia Region."
   The conference is aimed at cementing regional ties through a set of Confidence Building Measures. The process is aimed at expanding coordination between Afghanistan and its neighbors and regional partners in facing common threats, including terrorism, narcotics, poverty and extremism.
   Foreign ministers of ten countries including China, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Iran and India have confirmed participation, said the Foreign Ministry.
   The Heart of Asia - Istanbul Process was established in 2011 at the initiative of Afghanistan and Turkey.
   The main objective of the process is to foster efforts for regional cooperation and connectivity with a view to promoting long-term peace and stability as well as progress and development in Afghanistan and the region.
   The conference is expected to adopt a forward looking Islamabad Declaration entitled Enhanced Cooperation for Countering Security Threats and Promoting Connectivity in the Heart of Asia Region.
   The declaration would underline commitments from the Heart of Asia countries and partners for sustained efforts towards promoting peace and security, economic development and connectivity in the region. 

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