US urges Pakistan to help revive peace talks with Taliban

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The United States on Friday asked Pakistan to play its role for the success of Afghan reconciliation process and help revive the stalled peace talks between Washington and the Taliban in Qatar, which the Taliban walked away from in March following Obama administration’s hesitation to release their five key leaders imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay.
Islamabad, on its part, extended full assurance that it would do whatever was possible for bringing peace back to Afghanistan, but also made it clear that an ‘intra-Afghan dialogue’ between all Afghan groups in a meaningful manner was vital for the success of the reconciliation process.
The ongoing efforts on part of Washington, Kabul and Islamabad for ending the war in Afghanistan through dialogue between the warring parties, including the Taliban, was the main issue discussed by the visiting US Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman, who reached Islamabad on Friday, and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Kayani.
Grossman held separate meetings with the foreign minister and General Kayani and is expected to meet the president and prime minister today (Saturday). He was to have a one-day visit to Islamabad, but it was later extended to two days.
According to sources privy to Friday’s meetings, Ambassador Grossman formally apprised the Pakistani leadership about the US decision to designate the ‘Haqqani network’ as terrorist organization. “Ambassador Grossman was told that it was purely an internal matter of the US to label the Haqqanis terrorist outfit and Pakistan had nothing to do with that, but it would also be difficult to bring them (Haqqani network) to the table of negotiations Washington’s decision,” a source said on condition of anonymity.
Grossman and Pakistani leaders, according to the sources, discussed the ‘safe passage’ to the Taliban leaders willing to take part in peace talks with Afghan and American officials in the future and there was agreement of views on this important issue between the two sides. “It was decided that Pakistan, US and Afghanistan would continue to work on the modalities of safe passage to the Taliban representatives that would be nominated by various Taliban groups for participation in the peace dialogue,” the source said. A Pakistani diplomat said Grossman was told that Pakistan was all willing to play its role for bringing durable peace to Afghanistan, but an ‘intra-Afghan dialogue’ was vital for the success of ongoing peace efforts.
“This intra-Afghan dialogue must be between all Afghan groups, including the Taliban, Grossman was told,” he said.
Ambassador Grossman also held detailed discussions with Foreign Minister Khar on the revival of ‘bilateral strategic dialogue’ that was suspended by the US last year owing to strained Washington-Islamabad relations. Foreign Minister Khar, who is leaving on an official visit to the United States in the next few days, would also discuss the strategic dialogue’s resumption with her counterpart Hillary Clinton and other American leaders in Washington. A statement issued by the Foreign Office said that during his meeting with Foreign Minister Khar, Grossman was accompanied by Special Assistant to the US President on Pakistan and Afghanistan Douglas Lute, Principal Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr Peter Lavoy, US CdA to Pakistan Ambassador Richard Hoagland and other senior officials. “The two sides exchanged views on the current status of the bilateral relations including development in the region particularly with respect to political and reconciliation process in Afghanistan,” it said.

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