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Pak-US officials held talks on Afghan peace process in Islamabad

30 April, 2019

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Pakistani and the United States (US) officials held delegation-level talks on the Afghan peace process in Islamabad on Monday. US Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Alice Wells arrived in the capital on Monday for a meeting with the government’s interagency delegation led by Additional Secretary Americas Aftab Khokhar.

According to the state-run radio service, both sides discussed bilateral relations and the Afghan reconciliation process in the meetings. According to a press statement issued by the Foreign Office, the Pakistani delegation stressed that an intra-Afghan dialogue is vital for the process to move forward.

Pakistan insisted that a ‘conducive environment’ should be created in Afghanistan to ensure an early and dignified return of Afghan refugees. The two sides also discussed bilateral relations and Islamabad highlighted the need to intensify engagement in matters pertaining to economy and trade.

The State Department had earlier said the special envoy will visit Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia and the United Kingdom from April 21 to May 11, as part of the ‘overall effort to facilitate a political settlement that ends the conflict in Afghanistan’.

In an interview with Afghanistan’s largest private television station, Tolo News, on Sunday, Khalilzad had said any peace agreement with the Afghan Taliban will depend on the declaration of a permanent ceasefire and a commitment to end the country’s long war. He had said the Taliban’s demands were focused on the withdrawal of US forces from the country. “Our focus is on terrorism. No agreement will be done if we don’t see a permanent ceasefire and a commitment to end the war,” he had said. “We are seeking peace and (a) political settlement … We want peace to give us the possibility to withdraw,” he added.

Khalilzad is expected to meet with the Taliban in Doha in the coming days, but peace talks have been criticised for failing ? so far ? to include members of the Afghan government, which the Taliban view as a puppet regime.

“Washington wants to put an end to their expenses in Afghanistan and the dangers the forces face but also Washington has a responsibility and wants to end this war responsibly and leave a good legacy,” Khalilzad had said.

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