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PublishDate: Saturday, February 1, 2020 04:55

US Afghanistan envoy meets Pakistani officials

Zalmay Khalilzad, visiting Islamabad for the first time in 2020, separately met army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to share the outcome of his recent meetings with Taliban leaders in Doha.
In his meeting with the foreign minister, Khalilzad, who visited Pakistan a record nine times last year, hailed Islamabad’s support and “mediatory role” in the peace process.
According to a Foreign Ministry statement, Qureshi affirmed Pakistan’s continued support for the smooth progress and successful outcome of efforts aimed at ending the decades-long war in Afghanistan.
He said a possible peace deal between Washington and the Taliban could pave the way for intra-Afghan dialogue -- a longtime demand of the international community which the Taliban have rejected time and again.
Khalilzad met Gen. Bajwa at the army headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi and shared details of his recent engagements with the Taliban and the Afghan government.
“During the meeting, matters of mutual interest including the overall regional security situation and ongoing Afghanistan reconciliation process were discussed,” a statement from the Pakistani army’s media wing said without offering details.
“Mr. Khalilzad thanked Pakistan for facilitating the process towards the mutual objective of peace in the region,” the statement concluded.
In December 2018, Pakistan arranged rare direct talks between Washington and the Taliban, paving the way for a negotiated settlement of the lingering conflict.
The process, however, is still awaiting a breakthrough, as the Taliban have turned down repeated calls for inclusion of the Kabul government in the talks.
Pakistan also facilitated the landmark first round of direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Islamabad in July 2015. That process broke down after the Taliban announced the death of their long-time leader Mullah Omar, triggering a bitter internal power struggle.
Taliban, who reportedly control or influence over 50% of Afghanistan, have opened new fronts across the war-torn nation in recent years as Afghan security forces -- suffering casualties and desertions -- struggle to beat back a revitalized insurgency.



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