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PublishDate: Monday, April 22, 201310:45

Pakistan, US in a bid to break the deadlock

Pakistan and the United States were willing to expedite efforts for a peace deal in Afghanistan.

Senior officials from Pakistan and the United States held talks on Sunday to break the apparent deadlock in efforts to reach out to the Afghan Taliban for a peaceful end to a decade-long war.

A high-level US delegation, led by US acting special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan David Pearce, travelled to Islamabad to meet senior Pakistani civil and military officials. He was assisted by Special Assistant to US President Lt Gen (retd) Dagulas Lute, Principal Assistant Secretary of Defence for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs Dr Peter Lavoy and Ambassador Richard Olson.

The American delegation met with Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in Rawalpindi. Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani was also in attendance. The meeting came at a time when tension is running high between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The focus of discussions, a foreign official disclosed, was on how to give fresh impetus to the Afghan reconciliation process, which is believed to have been making little headway because of mistrust among the key players.

A statement issued by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), confirmed that the two sides discussed efforts to seek a peaceful end to the Afghan conflict.

“The two sides discussed matters of mutual interest with particular focus on Afghanistan reconciliation process,” the statement added without elaborating.

However, the official, who asked not to be named, told The Express Tribune that both Pakistan and the United States were willing to expedite efforts for a peace deal in Afghanistan.

He said the issue of Afghan Taliban releases and Qatar process also came up for discussion. The two countries agreed that future releases of Taliban prisoners, currently in Pakistan’s custody, must be done through better coordination.

“All sides will have to ensure that freed Taliban prisoners must become part of the reconciliation process,” the official revealed.

The US side appreciated Pakistani steps to facilitate the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process, he added.

The official maintained that Pakistan conveyed to the US that Islamabad was ready to reengage Kabul on the issue of Taliban releases. “But the Afghanistan government is reluctant to discuss the issue,” he said.

The release of Taliban prisoners has been suspended indefinitely due to strained ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Kabul has accused Islamabad of sabotaging peace efforts. Pakistan has denied the charge saying it remained committed to the reconciliation process.


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