Delegation-level talks were held at the Foreign Office on Sunday. PHOTO: EXPRESS NEWS
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Pakistan reaffirms role for Afghan peace deal

Delegation-level talks were held at the Foreign Office on Sunday. PHOTO: EXPRESS NEWS

Islamabad on Sunday urged all sides to move towards a political solution for lingering conflict in Afghanistan following talks between the visiting top US diplomat and senior Pakistani officials.

US Special Representative for Afghan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad began his latest trip to the region from Pakistan as part of continued efforts to seek a peace deal in the neighbouring country.

Khalilzad’s visit comes after Afghan Taliban refused to agree on a ceasefire during Eid but said talks with US would continue.

Khalilzad, who was accompanied by senior defence and state department officials held delegation-level talks at the foreign office in Islamabad.

Additional Secretary Aftab Khokhar led the Pakistani side at the consultative meeting that according to Radio Pakistan would continue on Monday.

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No official statement was issued by either side on the outcome of talks. But officials familiar with the proceedings told The Express Tribune that talks focused on Afghan peace efforts.

Against the backdrop of recent developments including Taliban refusal to agree on a ceasefire during Eid, Pakistan advised all sides to move towards the political solution of the conflict, officials said.

Pakistan also reaffirmed its commitment to continue playing its positive role in brokering the peace deal.

Khalilzad, according to officials, appreciated Pakistan’s efforts and pivotal role for the establishment of enduring peace in Afghanistan.

The US special representative is scheduled to travel to Kabul, United Arab Emirates and Qatar where he will have another round of talks with the Taliban.

There has been some progress in earlier rounds but Taliban’s insistence on clear timeframe for the withdrawal of US troops and refusal to engage with the Kabul administration has continued to hamper the consultations.

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Khalilzad is also expected to meet senior military officials before flying to Kabul. But unlike his previous trips, the US representative’s recent engagements have been kept low key. It was not clear if he would even be meeting Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

Pakistan’s apparent lukewarm approach is attributed to the assessment that ongoing peace efforts may not break the stalemate.

Despite uncertainty surrounding the outcome of peace talks, Khalilzad saw some positives in the Eid message given by Afghan Taliban chief.

The US representative said that the statement provides “A desire to participate in dialogue with other Afghans and in a final political settlement that will require power sharing. “[These] All [are] good things”.

In a message on Saturday, the Taliban leader stressed on his previous stance to end the presence of the US military in Afghanistan and said the group is open for talks but they expect “honesty” from the United States.

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