Afghan President Hamid Karzai

London - Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart, Asif Ali Zardari, are set to hold key talks on Monday with British Prime Minister David Cameron on the Afghan peace process.

The summit, near London, is aimed at boosting co-operation between Afghanistan and Pakistan, amid growing fears that a civil war could erupt when international troops leave Afghanistan next year.

“This trilateral process sends a very clear message to the Taliban - now is the time for everyone to participate in a peaceful political process in Afghanistan,” a British government spokeswoman said.

Support from Pakistan, which backed Afghanistan's 1996-2001 Taliban regime, is seen as crucial to peace after Nato troops depart - but relations between the neighbours remain uneasy despite some recent improvements.

Both Kabul and Washington have regularly accused Pakistan of helping to destabilise Afghanistan.

But Afghan peace negotiators have welcomed Pakistan's release of dozens of Taliban prisoners in recent months, a move they believe could help bring militants to the negotiating table.

Cameron hosted a private dinner for Karzai and Zardari at Chequers on Sunday evening, ahead of Monday's in-depth talks between the leaders and their officials.

These are the third trilateral talks in a year following meetings in Kabul in July and New York last September - but they are the first in which Pakistani and Afghan army and intelligence chiefs will also take part. - Sapa-AFP