Pakistan's army chief joins conference in Afghan capital

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghanistan hosted military chiefs from several neighboring countries on Tuesday, including Pakistan's army chief, for a conference focusing on how to deal with escalating terrorism in the region.

The military leaders, including Pakistan's Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, were also expected to look at the region's burgeoning narcotics trade as Afghanistan hits record levels of poppy production. Afghanistan is the world's largest producers of opium, the raw material used to make heroin.

The conference on Monday and Tuesday in Kabul included U.S. and NATO representatives.

Capt. Tom Gresback, spokesman for NATO-led forces, said in a statement the event "afforded leaders the opportunity to meet in person and identify opportunities to protect and promote common interests, specifically pertaining to securing a lasting peace for Afghanistan and stability for the region."

Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman Daulat Waziri said military chiefs from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan also attended the conference.

Bajwa's presence is particularly significant as both Afghan and U.S. officials ratchet up pressure on Pakistan to close Taliban sanctuaries on its soil. Islamabad denies charges that it harbors militants.

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