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Pakistan, Afghanistan hold talks today

Afghan Voice Agency(AVA) , 8 Jan 2019 - 11:57

A high-ranking Afghan delegation will visit Pakistan today (January 8) to hold talks with the Pakistani counterparts on the prospects of peace with the Afghan Taliban.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s Special Envoy for Regional Affairs on Consensus around peace and head of the High Peace Council’s Secretariat, Umer Daudzai, will be leading the delegation to visit Pakistan where he will meet top Pakistani military, religious and political leaders about Afghanistan’s peace process.


HPC Spokesperson Sayed Ehsan Tahiri said: “He (Umer Daudzai) will meet Pakistan’s minister of foreign affairs (Shah Mehmood Qureshi) about the peace process in Afghanistan. He will also meet Pakistani army chief including Pakistan’s influential political and religious leaders who have a key role in Pakistan’s domestic and foreign policy.”

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that the Afghan government wants to be part of the next round of talks between the United States and the Afghan Taliban this month.

“They have been asking us to convince the Taliban for direct talks with them (the Afghan government). We have no objection to this proposal but the Taliban have reservations. They want to finalize the deal with the US. We are hoping the Afghanistan representative is also present in the next round of meeting,” said one official. He said Pakistan had been extending whatever help it can to make the US-Taliban talks a success.
Another official said Islamabad had always tried to help Afghanistan but Kabul had given preference to India in the past. “It’s good that they are coming to us again. We have never disappointed the peace efforts,” he added.
Over the weekend, the foreign ministry said Pakistani and Turkish officials had held talks on the prospects of peace in Afghanistan. “I had a meeting with Turkish minister of foreign affairs where I got the opportunity to talk with him about the changing situation in Afghanistan,” said Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said Iran had also started extensive efforts aimed at persuading Taliban to endorse direct peace negotiations with the Afghan government.

“They (Iran) persuaded the Taliban to present their demands through political and peaceful means,” said Omid Maisam, deputy spokesperson for Abdullah Abdullah.Last month, Afghan Taliban representatives, the US and regional countries met for talks in the United Arab Emirates. So far, the Taliban have refused to hold formal talks with the Afghan government, which they consider an illegitimate foreign-appointed regime.
The group says it will first reach an agreement with the US, which it sees as the main force in Afghanistan since US-led forces toppled the Taliban government in 2001.
The US insists any final settlement must be led by the Afghans. Representatives of the Taliban from the group’s Qatar office had attended peace talks in China, Germany, France, Qatar and other countries recently.

There is also a possibility of a meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Donald Trump to finalise the settlement of the Afghanistan issue.
There has been no official communication about Prime Minister Khan’s meeting with President Trump but both the sides were willing for the top-level engagement.
Recently, US President Donald Trump wrote a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan seeking Islamabad’s support in securing a “negotiated settlement” to the war in Afghanistan.

This came as Washington stepped up efforts to hold peace talks with the Taliban, more than 17 years after the invasion of Afghanistan. In his letter, Trump said a settlement is “his most important regional priority,” the Pakistani foreign ministry stated. “In this regard, he has sought Pakistan’s support and facilitation”, it added.
Last month, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad had briefed Foreign Minister Qureshi about the US President’s letter written to Prime Minister Imran Khan for getting Pakistan’s cooperation regarding Afghan reconciliation process. Khalilzad had also visited Pakistan in October in his current capacity.
Pakistan later arranged a meeting between Afghan Taliban and the US. Other friendly countries were also engaged. Another round is expected in Saudi Arabia this month.
Pak-US ties had soured in recent years with US officials repeatedly accusing Islamabad of ignoring or even collaborating with groups like the Afghan Taliban, which attack Afghanistan from alleged safe havens along the border between the two countries.
The troubled relationship hit another snag after US President Donald Trump declared he had cancelled assistance worth hundreds of millions of dollars because Islamabad does not do ‘a damn thing’ for the US

Story Code: 177429

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