Islamabad: In order to boost peace and security in the region, Pakistan and Afghanistan on Friday vowed to jointly fight terrorism and expand cooperation in all fields, especially trade.

Following talks between visiting Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari that focussed on the reconciliation process with the Taliban in Afghanistan, the two sides emphasized the need for joint efforts for peace and stability.

Zardari told a joint news conference that Pakistan always supported the Afghan-led reconciliation process and would continue its cooperation with the Afghan leadership in this regard. Karzai expressed the hope that his visit will help in the practical implementation of agreements signed by the two countries to boost economic activities.

Karzai stressed that Pakistan and Afghanistan are together in defeating terrorism and extremism and bringing stability.

Zardari said, "The war on terror is Pakistan's own war as enemies are killing our children, brothers and sisters."

Responding to a question, Zardari attempted to move away from tension in bilateral ties in the wake of the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2. He said since a democratic government came to power in Pakistan, "we never had ups and downs" in relations with Afghanistan.

"We always have good relations but there are some miscreants who are around everywhere in all forms. If in any form, we can help Afghans and Afghans can help us, we will help each other," he said.

Following bin Laden's killing in Pakistan, elements in the Afghan government had claimed it was proof that the neighboring country needed to do more to tackle terrorism.     Referring to multiple visits by Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to Afghanistan, Karzai said such frequent interactions promoted common interests. He thanked
the Pakistani government for providing opportunities to Afghan students to study medical sciences, engineering and other subjects.

"I can say with confidence that we have recognition in both countries that we feel each other's pain and our joys and sorrows are the same...Now we are moving forward with concrete steps," Karzai said, pointing to joint projects in infrastructure, education, health and commercial activities.

Replying to a question, Karzai said the protection of the land and people of Afghanistan is the responsibility of its own people. "America came to Afghanistan in the name of the war on terror. We wanted to remove the vestiges of terrorism for the good of us all," he said.

Earlier, during his talks with Karzai, Zardari called for transforming the bilateral transit trade agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan into a trilateral pact with the Central Asian Republics. Karzai's delegation included High Peace Council Chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani, Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul, Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi. The Pakistan side included the Ministers for Commerce, Defence, Interior and Finance and other senior
Officials.

Zardari's spokesman Farhatullah Babar said bilateral relations, the transit trade agreement, shared threat of militancy and terrorism, enhancing modes of connectivity and speedy implementation of mega connectivity projects and the situation in the region were discussed by the two Presidents.

The two leaders agreed to accord priority to development and to take steps to promote economic and trade cooperation besides focusing on the issue of security, Babar said. They agreed to develop mechanisms to implement mega projects like the Peshawar-Jalalabad-Herat expressway and Peshawar-Jalalabad rail link.

Progress in implementing the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India gas pipeline was reviewed and its speedy execution emphasized by the Presidents.

(Agencies)