Pakistan brings US and Taliban face-to-face in UAE


–FO spokesman says Pakistan is committed to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, hopes talks will end bloodshed in war-torn country

–Afghan Taliban spokesman says representatives of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Pakistan also participating in peace talks

ISLAMABAD: Delivering on its commitment to bring peace to the region, Pakistan on Monday successfully brought the Afghan Taliban to the table in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the latest round of talks between the militant outfit and US officials as diplomatic moves toward agreeing to the basis for talks to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan continue.

The talks brokered by Pakistan concluded on Monday in Abu Dhabi. In a joint statement issued by Afghan Taliban and the US, both parties agreed on carrying forward the peace process. The Afghan Taliban representative said that he will discuss the peace talks with the Taliban Shura.

“Along with the international community and other stakeholders, Pakistan is committed to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. Talks are being held in UAE. We hope this will end bloodshed in Afghanistan and bring peace to the region,” Foreign Office (FO) spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal announced on Twitter as talks went underway in the Gulf country.

Afghan Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that representatives from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the UAE are also participating in the meeting, which follows at least two meetings between Taliban officials and US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar.

He made the announcement in a statement on Twitter.

The meetings come as diplomatic efforts to resolve the Afghan conflict have intensified, although the Taliban have so far refused to deal directly with the Western-backed government in Kabul, which it considers illegitimate.

The Taliban say the presence of international forces in Afghanistan is the main obstacle to peace but have said that issues, including mutual recognition with the Kabul government, constitutional changes and women rights, can be negotiated.

On Saturday, the US said it welcomes actions Pakistan is taking to promote a negotiated solution to the war in neighbouring Afghanistan.

The acknowledgement came a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that Pakistan had arranged another round of US peace talks with the Afghan Taliban scheduled for Monday.

“The US welcomes any actions by the Pakistani government to promote greater cooperation, including fostering negotiations between the Taliban, the Afghan government, and other Afghans,” a US embassy spokesperson in Kabul told Voice of America.

Khalilzad has met, and will continue to meet, with all interested parties, including the Taliban, to support a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan, the spokesperson added.

PM Imran’s announcement about the talks came days after US President Donald Trump made a personal appeal to him to help end the war in Afghanistan.

Trump sent Imran a personal letter asking for his help in pushing the Taliban into peace talks.

The White House National Security Council said that Trump had asked PM Imran in the letter to lend his “full support” to the deepening US efforts to launch such talks.

“In the letter, the president recognises that Pakistan has the ability to deny the Taliban sanctuary on its territory,” said a National Security Council spokesman.“The letter also makes clear that Pakistan’s assistance with the Afghan peace process is fundamental to building an enduring US-Pakistan partnership.”

Pakistan’s FO said in a statement that Trump had sought Pakistan’s support in forging a negotiated settlement to the Afghan conflict.

“Since Pakistan has always advocated a political settlement to end the war in Afghanistan, US decision is welcomed. Pakistan reiterates its commitment to play a facilitation role in good faith,” the FO said.

The letter came just days after an ill-tempered Twitter exchange between Trump and PM Imran.

In mid-November, Trump said on Twitter that “We no longer pay Pakistan the $Billions because they would take our money and do nothing for us.”

PM Imran responded with a tweet that said, “Instead of making Pakistan a scapegoat for their failures, the US should do a serious assessment of why, despite 140,000 NATO troops plus 250,000 Afghan troops & reportedly $1 trillion spent on war in Afghanistan, the Taliban today are stronger than before.”


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