RAWALPINDI: US military delegation led by US CENTCOM Commander General Joseph L Votel called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Sunday, said a press release issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
Geo-strategic environment, regional security and Afghanistan peace and reconciliation process were discussed in the meeting. The visiting dignitary appreciated Pakistan Army’s efforts for regional peace and stability.
The COAS reiterated that peace in Afghanistan was vital for regional peace. He said that Pakistan, despite constraints, had contributed to all efforts for regional peace and would continue to do so.
On Thursday, US delegation headed by US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and Commander Resolute Support Mission General Austin Scott Miller also met COAS Bajwa at the General Headquarters (GHQ). Regional security environment and Afghan peace and reconciliation process was discussed.
The delegation appreciated Pakistan’s efforts towards the peace process. The army chief reiterated that peace in Afghanistan is important for Pakistan and assured continued efforts for bringing peace and stability in the region.
On Saturday, Afghan Taliban repeated their refusal to deal directly with the Afghan government. According to the US, any settlement in Afghanistan must be between the internationally recognised Afghan government and the Taliban, who have so far refused to talk to an administration they describe as an illegitimate puppet regime. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said peace talks with the US delegation could resume if they were assured that only three issues would be discussed – a US withdrawal from Afghanistan, an exchange of prisoners and lifting a ban on the movement of Taliban leaders.
In December, delivering on its commitment to bring peace to the region, Pakistan successfully brought the Afghan Taliban to the table in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the talks between the militant outfit and US officials to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan. The talks brokered by Pakistan concluded on December 18 in Abu Dhabi. In a joint statement issued by the Afghan Taliban and the US, both parties had agreed on carrying forward the peace process.
Prime Minister Imran Khan’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 PM Khan 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 Khan 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 Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement that Trump had sought Pakistan’s support in forging a negotiated settlement to the Afghan conflict.