Pakistani and Afghan leaders to meet in Turkey on Friday- official .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} The leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan will meet in Istanbul on Friday to improve ties and boost cooperation, a Turkish government official said on Tuesday.

Afghan and Western officials have repeatedly accused Pakistan of failing to do enough to stop extremists based in its troubled tribal region and have expressed concern over its recent negotiations with Taliban militants.

Islamabad rejects the claims, saying that the root of the problem is in Afghanistan and that it has more than 90,000 troops along the border, with 1,000 Pakistani soldiers having died fighting insurgents since 2001

But more recently, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistan’s new President Asif Ali Zardari have forged a closer personal relationship.

A government official told AP that the two leaders will meet in Istanbul on Friday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan hosted Karzai and Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum's "Europe and Central Asia" meeting in Istanbul to discuss efforts to bring peace to their region in October.

The leaders, referring to last year's trilateral summit in Ankara between the presidents of the three countries, have reiterated their commitment to the encouragement of efforts for peace, security, stability and economic development in the region.

A tripartite summit among the presidents of Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan was held in the Turkish capital of Ankara on April 29-30, 2007. The presidents released an "Ankara declaration" at the end of their meeting.

In the declaration, Pakistan and Afghanistan had agreed to enhance their relations on the basis of good neighborhood and respect to their territorial integrity.

The three countries also set up a joint working group which held its first meeting in the Turkish capital of Ankara in July 2007.

Turkey has of late been playing a major role on the global stage, mediating between Syria and Israel, taking some kind of a role in Iran’s nuclear dispute and finally working on the formation of a Caucasus alliance, even discussing the issue with Armenia, a country with which it has no diplomatic relations.