Tuesday, October 09, 2018

US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad arrives in Islamabad, meets FM Qureshi

Veteran United States diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad — Washington's newly named point man tasked with finding a peaceful end to Afghanistan's 17-year war — arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday to seek the help of the new PTI-led government in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table.

Khalilzad arrived in Islamabad from neighbouring Afghanistan where he met with President Ashraf Ghani, a long-time friend.

Delegation level talks between Pakistan and the US on Afghan reconciliation process were held at the foreign office, according to Radio Pakistan. The Pakistani side was led by Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and the US side by Khalilzad.

Afterwards, he called on Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. The foreign minister said that Pakistan will continue to play its role for a political solution to the Afghan conflict, Radio Pakistanreported.

Both the leaders agreed to continue cooperation on Afghan reconciliation process.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday had urged the Trump administration's new envoy to be more sensitive to Pakistani opinion than he has been as a private citizen.

“He's been given a new role, and I hope, I would urge him to be more sensitive to opinion in Pakistan,” Qureshi had told the US Institute of Peace, a Washington think tank.

Washington and Kabul have both repeatedly accused Pakistan of providing safe havens for Taliban insurgents, a claim Islamabad has denied and countered with charges that its own insurgents have found sanctuary in Afghanistan.

The tour, which was first announced by the US State Department as a mission to coordinate and lead US efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, has been shrouded in secrecy.

Khalilzad is also expected to visit United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar — where the Taliban maintain a political office. - More, Dawn


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