Senior officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, United States and China will meet in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad in January to work out a roadmap for the revival of stalled peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban representatives, Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said on Thursday.
“The first round of a quadrilateral meeting between senior officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States that will lay a roadmap for peace negotiations and is set to be held on January 11 in Islamabad. The second round of the meeting will be convened in Kabul afterwards,” Ghani told a press briefing.
The first round of face-to-face talks between Taliban and the Afghan government was held in Pakistan in July but the second round was cancelled after the death of Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar was revealed.
The announcement came four days after President Ghani met with Pakistan’s Army Chief General Raheel Sharif in Kabul and the two countries agreed to take action against armed groups refusing to join the peace process.
Amidst the recent efforts for the revival of the peace dialogue, the Taliban insurgents have recently intensified their activities, triggering heavy clashes between Afghan security forces and the militants in parts of the country, especially in the southern provinces, the former Taliban’s hotbed.
Meanwhile in Islamabad, Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif told the Senate that the first round of quadrilateral meeting of Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States and China will take place in Islamabad on January 16.
Asif was apprising the Senate about Army Chief General Raheel Sharif’s recent visit to Kabul.
The minister said the meeting on Jan 16 will clearly demarcate responsibilities of each stakeholder at all stages. He said the army chief carried a message to Kabul that the peace process will necessarily be Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.
He said it was agreed that they will pursue peace and reconciliation with Taliban groups willing to join the process. Elements who would still continue to pursue violence will be dealt, under a mutually worked out framework, he added.