Pakistani, US officials discuss Afghan peace process
Islamabad : The US and Pakistan officials on Monday held talks here on key bilateral and regional issues, including the peace process in Afghanistan.
Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal said US Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad accompanied by a delegation, including Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, South and Central Asia, Alice G Wells, arrived in Islamabad.
The purpose of the trip is “to hold meetings – part of regular consultations, on bilateral relationship & Afghan peace process,” said Faisal.
He said Ambassador Wells held delegation-level talks at the ministry of foreign affairs with the Pakistan side led by Aftab Khokhar, Additional Secretary (Americas).
The ties between the two countries strained after US President Donald Trump, while announcing his Afghanistan and South Asia policy in 2017, hit out at Pakistan for providing safe havens to “agents of chaos” that kill Americans in Afghanistan and warned Islamabad that it has “much to lose” by harbouring terrorists.
But lately new efforts have been launched to improve the trust level after Secretary of State Michael Pompeo visited Islamabad in September.
The US and Taliban have held several rounds of talks, including one in Qatar, and reportedly made headway on key issues.
But the intra-Afghan reconciliation is a key hurdle as Taliban are not fully ready to sit with the Kabul government as they consider it as a puppet of the US.
The US special envoy, Khalilzad, would also meet foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and foreign secretary Sohail Mahmood to further integrate efforts for peace in Afghanistan, officials said.
US troops have been stationed in Afghanistan for 17 years.
President Trump reportedly wants to cut in half the 14,000 American troops in Afghanistan, and the Taliban leaders have made a US withdrawal a key condition in peace negotiations. (PTI)