(Updates with quotes from speeches)
By Katharine Houreld
ISLAMABAD, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Monday stressed the need for Pakistan's help in arranging peace talks with the Taliban in a meeting with Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who assured him of his support.
Pakistan backed the Taliban's rise to power in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s and is seen as a crucial gatekeeper in attempts by the U.S. and Afghan governments to reach out to insurgent leaders who fled to Pakistan after the group's 2001 ouster.
But Afghanistan has long accused Pakistan of playing a double game in the 12-year-old war, saying its neighbour, facing a Taliban insurgency of its own, makes public pronouncements about peace, but allows elements of its military to play a spoiling role.
Karzai said he had "primarily and with emphasis" asked the Pakistanis to help with reconciliation after the majority of foreign troops leave Afghanistan next year.
He wants Pakistan to help arrange contacts between the Taliban and the Afghan High Peace Council, the government body tasked with reconciliation, or release high-ranking Taliban prisoners who might act as interlocutors.
Sharif did not specifically address those requests during Karzai's visit to the Pakistani capital.
It is unclear whether the Afghan Taliban, in power from 1996 and 2001, will have a role in the next government. The Taliban have refused to talk to Karzai, accusing him of being an American puppet.
"For the two countries, the primary concern is lack of security for their citizens and the continued menace of terrorism," said Karzai. "It is this area that needs to have primary and focused attention from both governments."
Sharif assured him of support but did not mention the High Peace Council and closed his address by listing economic deals the two countries had struck.
"Pakistan (has) strong and sincere support for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. We fully agreed that this process has to be inclusive, Afghan-owned and Afghan-led," Sharif said.
The Taliban in June set up an office in Doha, touted as a conduit for peace talks with the United States, but the office infuriated Karzai the day it opened by displaying a flag bearing symbols from the time the Taliban ruled Afghanistan.
Karzai accused the Taliban of running an embassy rather than an office. The office has now closed.
Karzai has made 19 trips to Pakistan but this was his first meeting with Sharif since Sharif's landslide election win in May. (Reporting By Katharine Houreld; Editing by Nick Macfie)