Kh Asif represents Pakistan at Afghan moot in Tashkent

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ISLAMABAD: An international conference to find a solution to the Afghan conflict began in Uzbekistan’s capital Tashkent on Tuesday.

Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif is leading the Pakistani delegation.

Twenty countries and international organisations are attending the conference, titled “Peaceful Cooperation in Security and Regional Interaction”.

The conference will discuss peace and stability in Afghanistan by promoting cooperation for Afghan reconciliation and in counterterrorism and counter-narcotics.

Delegates of regional and international powers such as the US, Russia, China, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan gathered on March 27 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital, to find ways of holding direct talks between President Ashraf Ghani’s government and the Taliban.

A number of the delegates are from countries who have bankrolled warring sides in Afghanistan as part of their proxy war for decades.

Other topics of the two-day meeting in Tashkent will be regional connectivity and combating of terrorism, with some of the regional countries fearing a spread of attacks by Daesh groups from Afghanistan into their soil.

The Tashkent meeting comes a month after President Ghani during a regional conference, called the “Kabul Process”, urged the Taliban to initiate talks with his government to end nearly four decades of conflict, including the current 16-year-old war led by the US.

The Taliban, which has led the insurgency since its ouster by US-led forces in late 2001, has not officially given a positive reply to Ghani’s offer.

The group has not been invited to the Tashkent meeting. A spokesman for the movement, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the meeting will produce no positive impact on ending the Afghan conflict as it does not discuss the occupation of Afghanistan by the US.

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