–Say Taliban should seize dialogue opportunity
—Use of force has failed to deliver results in Afghanistan, FM tells Bolton and Pompeo
WASHINGTON: Pakistan and the United States (US) have discussed prospects to advance Afghan peace process, with their top diplomats noting at a meeting in Washington that the Taliban should seize the opportunity for dialogue.
In separate statements issued after a meeting between Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the two sides underlined the importance of Pakistan-US relationship for stability in South Asia.
“Secretary Pompeo underscored a common goal to advance peace and security in the broader region. In particular, Secretary Pompeo emphasised the important role Pakistan could play in bringing about a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a readout of Tuesday’s meeting.
“The secretary agreed that there was momentum to advance the Afghan peace process and that the Afghan Taliban should seize the opportunity for dialogue,” the statement added.
According to Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, during the meeting, Pompeo appreciated Pakistan’s support for political reconciliation in Afghanistan and its efforts for peace in the neighbourhood.
“Both sides agreed that the time was ripe for the Afghan Taliban to avail the opportunity for a political settlement by seizing the opportunity for dialogue,” a statement released by the Pakistani embassy in DC said.
The two diplomats met as Afghanistan faced a spate of bombings amid Taliban insurgency and the ISIS attacks. Recently, Kabul had a brief ceasefire with the Afghan Taliban but the conflict-hit country has not yet been able to see headway in peace talks.
Pompeo’s emphasis on Pakistan’s role toward negotiated settlement reflects President Donald Trump’s expectation that Islamabad should help achieve the goal of resolving the 17-year-old conflict through talks.
During the meeting, the State Department said, Secretary Pompeo discussed the “importance of Pakistan and the US working together to advance joint priorities, recognising that bilateral cooperation was mutually beneficial and a factor for stability in South Asia”.
“The two sides agreed to remain engaged on these and other issues, and reiterated their desire to maintain constructive dialogue to advance shared interests.”
The FM also met with US National Security Adviser John Bolton, noted at the State Department meeting with Pompeo that Islamabad and Washington “shared a common desire for peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region at large”.
He reiterated Pakistan’s support for a political settlement in Afghanistan, noting that the use of force had failed to deliver results, according to Pakistani Foreign Office spokesperson.
Qureshi stressed that “peace in South Asia, which was a common goal of both the United States and Pakistan, would remain elusive until all disputes, including the core dispute of Jammu and Kashmir, are resolved.”
Earlier, the FM also apprised NSA Bolton of the Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government’s peace initiative with India and New Delhi’s sudden reversal of position after agreeing to hold bilateral talks.
In the context of achieving stability in South Asia, the foreign minister briefed Bolton about India’s aggressive posturing in the region, the Pakistani embassy said.
After initially agreeing to PM Khan’s peace initiative, the government in India had caved into internal politics, Qureshi noted.
According to the embassy, FM Qureshi said Pakistan, on its part, remained committed to engaging India in a comprehensive peace dialogue to resolve all outstanding issues including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.