–Khalilzad visits Pakistan, urges all parties to show ‘flexibility’
Pakistan and the United States (US) discussed on Sunday discussed Afghan peace process and its impact on the region as United States special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Islamabad on Sunday.
A delegation led by Zalmay Khalilzad held talks with officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Pakistan was led by MOFA Additional Secretary Aftab Khokhar.
Speaking on the occasion, Aftab Khokhar said Pakistan will continue playing its mediatory role in restoring peace in the region, including the Afghan peace process.
Pakistan advised all the sides to move towards a political resolution of the issue in order to end the decades’ long conflict in the region, he added.
Ambassador Khalilzad appreciated Pakistan’s pivotal role for the establishment of enduring peace in the region.
Earlier in the day, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Islamabad on Sunday to kick off a two-week peace mission that will take him to Afghanistan, Belgium, Germany, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates in efforts to end the long-running Afghan war.
In Kabul, the US State Department said Khalilzad would consult with the Afghan government and other Afghans. He is also expected to continue talks with the Taliban in Doha, where the group maintains a political office. At his other stops, Khalilzad will work to build international support for the Afghan peace process.
The talks so far have focused on a timetable for US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan as well as Taliban guarantees that they won’t harbour terrorist groups or allow Afghanistan to be used as a staging ground for global terror attacks.
Khalilzad took to Twitter to say he believes the peace process is progressing, even though the last round of talks ended with the two sides at apparent loggerheads over when the US might pull its troops from Afghanistan.
“We’ve made substantial progress over the last month. On this trip, I want to take that momentum and accelerate the #AfghanPeaceProcess,” he wrote.
Khalilzad added that he was optimistic about talks, and called for parties to show “flexibility”
He will speak with the Taliban in the Qatari capital Doha, where the two sides have repeatedly met.
The Taliban, however, have refused to negotiate directly with the Kabul government, and the group’s leader said on Saturday that they would not call a ceasefire any time soon.
In a rare and defiant message ahead of what would be the seventh round of negotiations, Taliban chief Haibatullah Akhundzada boasted foreign forces in Afghanistan are “condemned to defeat” ─ but said the insurgents would continue talks with the US.
Last year, the Taliban observed a three-day ceasefire over Eid and many Afghans ─ exhausted by decades of war and violence ─ had pinned their hopes on another truce this year.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had proposed a nationwide ceasefire at the start of Ramazan early last month, but the Taliban rejected the offer.