Iran, which also neighbors Afghanistan and Pakistan, is also important to the future stability of Afghanistan. In the past, it supported campaigns against the Taliban, a radical Sunni Muslim group opposed to the Shiites who make up a majority of Iran's population. But some reports have suggested Tehran — Washington's archenemy — also has supported the Taliban against US troops.
The US launched the war in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks, but has been unable to defeat the Taliban, which once sheltered Osama bin Laden. Washington wants to withdraw most of its troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and try to ensure the country remains moderately stable.
Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been badly strained, but the meeting between Karzai and President Asif Ali Zardari suggested that ties are improving. An Afghan statement said the leaders had agreed to restart a joint peace commission that was shelved after the assassination last year of Afghanistan's envoy to Taliban peace talks in Kabul.
Afghan officials had accused Pakistan of playing a role in the killing — allegations it denied.
In a statement, Zardari said Karzai told the meeting Thursday that Pakistan's support "was critical to the success of Afghan owned and Afghan led peace process" and that both countries should cooperate for peace.
Earlier, Ismail Qasemyar, the international relations adviser to the Afghan-government appointed council for talks with the Taliban, said Karzai would ask Zardari to "put positive and constructive pressure over the leadership of the Taliban to come close and to come together to start intra-Afghan dialogue and a process of negotiation."