FM Qureshi to visit Kabul for peace talks on Dec 15 after US request

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MULTAN: Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Saturday said he will visit Kabul on December 15 and hold talks with the Afghan leadership on political reconciliation and durable peace in the wake of the United States’ (US) request seeking Pakistan’s cooperation for peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Addressing a ceremony in Multan, Qureshi said it was the robustness of Pakistan’s foreign policy that the US requested for assistance in Afghan issue. He said Pakistan was committed to an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.

The minister was of the view that Pakistan’s foreign policy was moving on a positive trajectory based on national interest and self-reliance.

Earlier this week, PM Imran Khan, in a meeting with TV anchors and reporters in the federal capital, informed that he received a letter from the US President Donald Trump in which he asked Pakistan to play its role in Afghan peace talks which are aimed at catalysing an end to the 17-year invasion of Afghanistan by US troops.

The prime minister said Trump had sought Pakistan’s assistance in bringing the Taliban leadership to the negotiating table. “We will try to make the Afghan Taliban engage in dialogue with the US,” the prime minister replied when asked about the way forward following Trump’s letter.

On Tuesday, Qureshi had reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for the Afghan peace process in his meeting with US Special Envoy for Afghan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad — the United States special envoy tasked with finding a negotiated end to Afghanistan’s 17-year old war. “Pakistan will continue to cooperate with sincerity for a political settlement in Afghanistan. Long-lasting peace in Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s best interest,” Qureshi had tweeted after his meeting with the visiting US special envoy.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan, in an interview with The Washington Post, expressed his desire to have “a proper relationship with the US” akin to Islamabad’s ties with China rather than the one “where Pakistan is treated like a hired gun”.

Meanwhile, Qureshi said the prime minister has expressed satisfaction over the performance of Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the first hundred days of the PTI government.

He said the government raised the issue of blasphemous caricatures at the United Nations and also with the Dutch government in a strong voice.

“The controversial cartoon contest was cancelled in the Netherlands due to our vociferous efforts,” he stated.

FM Qureshi said Pakistan made the decision of opening of Kartarpur Corridor to facilitate the Sikh pilgrims, calling it a message of peace and love from Pakistan.

He said Sikh community in the whole world expressed pleasure over this initiative of Pakistan and appreciated the move.

The foreign minister said the issue of Kashmir was effectively highlighted at the UN and other world forums and the human rights violations by Indian occupation forces in the territory were exposed.