United States & Pakistan agreed to start intra-Afghan dialogue as ealry as possible

The first round of Intra-Afgahn dialogue are expected to be held in Qatar, despite offers of many countries including Norway and Germany. 

Arif Qureshi

Islamabad: U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad visited Islamabad on Sunday, where he held a delegation level meeting with Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, at General Head Quarter (GHQ), Rawalpindi.

Zalmay Khalilzad was accompanied by Gen. Scott Miller, the US commander of international troops in Afghanistan, while Director General, Inter Service Intelligence (ISI), Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed was also present in the meeting.

Ambassador Khalilzad discussed steps required for the start of intra-Afghan negotiations.

The two took note of recent progress created by the Eid ceasefire and accelerated prisoner releases as well as reduced violence ahead of intra-Afghan negotiations, said in a statement issued by the US embassy in Islamabad.

In his meeting with General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Ambassador Khalilzad expressed his appreciation for the role Prime Minister Imran Khan and General Bajwa are playing in support of peace in Afghanistan. The two agreed peace in Afghanistan offers an unprecedented opportunity to advance security, connectivity and development for the region.

During the meeting matters of mutual interest, overall regional security situation including Afghan refugees issue Afghan Reconciliation Process and Pak-Afghan border management were also discussed, siad in a statement by Pakistan armed forces Inter Service public relations (ISPR).

In another move Pakistan has appointed Mohammad Sadiq Khan, a retired diplomat who served as Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan from 2008 to 2014, as its special ambassador to Afghanistan on saturday.

The US peace envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, and the commander of foreign troops in Afghanistan, US Gen. Scott Miller, also met with the Taliban’s deputy leader Mullah Baradar in Doha on Sunday, said Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for Taliban.“Both sides talked about (the) speedy release of the prisoners and commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations,” said Shaheen in a tweet.

“Dr. Mutlaq Al-Qahtani, Special Envoy of the Foreign Minister of the State of Qatar and his delegation also participated in the meeting,” Shaheen added.

Zalmay Khalilzad’s next destination will be Kabul where he may meet with Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, newly appointed chief of the High Council for National Reconciliation.

Abdullah Abdullah, on Monday said that the Afghanistan government is preparing for the talks with the Taliban.  The first round of Intra-Afgahn talks are expected to be held in Qatar, despite offers of many countries including Norway and Germany.

Afghan government has already announced a 21-member team in March to negotiate with the Taliban.

According to The State Department confirmed on Friday that Khalilzad has begun another regional trip to Doha, Islamabad, and Kabul. “The primary focus of Ambassador Khalilzad’s trip is to obtain agreement between the Afghan parties on the practical next steps necessary for a smooth start to intra-Afghan negotiations.

The US-Taliban agreement was signed on February 29, in which it was decided that Afghan Government will release  5,000 prisoners of the Taliban and up to 1,000 prisoners of the Afghan government will be released by Taliban till March 10, a condition to start Intra-Afghan dialogue in Oslo, Norway.

The Afghan government has released 2,710 Taliban prisoners and Afghan Taliban has freed 458 government’s prisoners so far.

According to the US-Talian peace deal,  all U.S. troops would leave in 14 months. If the Taliban meet their commitments, as promised not to allow Al-Qaeda to use Afghan soil against the US and its allies.

Arif Qureshi is Editor Daily Online “The Fortress” he can be reached at arifqoreshi@gmail.com



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