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US envoy Khalilzad meets with Pak Army chief to discuss Afghan peace

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Washington | March 9, 2021 5:43:33 AM IST
US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad on Monday met with Pakistan army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and other officials to discuss the Afghan peace process, US State Department said.

"US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Khalilzad visited Islamabad today, he met Pakistani officials including Chief of Army Staff. Ambassador Khalilzad thanked Pakistani counterparts for their assistance and asked for Pakistan's continued commitment to the peace process," the US State Department Spokesperson, Ned Price said.

The development comes ahead of the deadline for the planned withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan this May.

Price said that Khalilzad will stay in Doha for a period of time to work on the Afghan peace process.

"Ambassador Khalilzad remains in the region. I understand that he had a relatively quick trip to Pakistan and I understand that he will be based in Doha for some time," Price said. "I wouldn't want to prejudge how things may unfold in coming hours and in coming days."

A statement from the US Embassy in Islamabad said Khalilzad had "stressed the need to accelerate progress towards a just and durable peace in Afghanistan" during the meetings with Bajwa and with government officials.

"Ambassador Khalilzad emphasised Pakistan's continued important role in the peace process, especially to help Afghans achieve a political settlement and comprehensive ceasefire,' the statement added.

The US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has earlier this week visited Kabul and Doha in the last week.

The Afghan government on Monday said Islamabad is a direct party to the Afghanistan conflict and treating it as a "normal neighbour" would not help the peace process in the war-torn country.

"Pakistan is a direct party to the Afghan conflict and crisis. Treating them as normal neighbour won't help the peace process. Defining their role in war and peace must be part of the discussion. Silence, sugar coating, appeasement or simply ignoring it won't help. Taliban leaders are in Pakistan," Afghanistan First Vice President Amrullah Saleh said.

Pakistan has been long blamed for providing support to Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan. It is no secret that scores of top Afghan Taliban leaders are hidden in Pakistan.

In December, a series of videos surfaced showing senior Taliban leaders meeting their followers and Taliban fighters in Pakistan.

In the videos, Taliban deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the head of the Taliban political office, was seen holding a briefing with the Taliban cadre on the Afghanistan peace negotiations and acknowledging the presence of the Taliban's top leadership in Pakistan.

The peace negotiations between Kabul and the Taliban began in the Qatari capital of Doha back in September. In early December, Kabul and the Taliban announced that they had agreed on the framework of the talks, allowing for discussions to now be held on substantive issues. Little progress, however, has so far been made since then. (ANI)

 
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