Peace talks in Afghanistan must resume as soon as possible, Pakistan and the Taliban militant group urged yesterday, after US President Donald Trump broke off negotiations last month seeking to end the United States’ longest war.
Trump halted talks with the group, aimed at striking a deal for US and other foreign troops to withdraw in exchange for Taliban security guarantees, after it carried out a bomb attack in Kabul that killed 12 people, including a US soldier.
“Both sides agreed on the need for the earliest resumption of the peace process,” Pakistan’s Foreign Office said in a statement yesterday after Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi met a Taliban delegation that is visiting Islamabad. “War is not a solution to any problem. Talks are the only and positive solution to establish peace in Afghanistan.”
The US embassy in the Pakistani capital did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The United States has long considered Pakistan’s co-operation crucial to efforts to end the war in Afghanistan.
The Taliban delegation was led by the group’s co-founder and head of the political wing, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was detained in custody in Pakistan for eight years before being released in 2018.
Representatives from the extremist militant group arrived in Pakistan overnight.
Baradar was greeted with hugs and smiles by Qureshi and spy chief Lieutenant-General Faiz Hameed, footage released by the ministry showed.
Pakistan was one of only three countries to recognise the Taliban regime.
The visit is part of efforts to reach out to regional countries after their talks with the United Stated broke down last month.
The meeting came as Zalmay Khalilzad, the top US envoy involved in the peace talks, also visited Islamabad for talks with the government, although it was not clear if he would have any contact with the Taliban.
The latest development follows a meeting last week between Trump and Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
A pause in the bloodshed would help smooth the way to an agreement, Pakistan’s foreign minister said.
“It was emphasised that reduction of violence by all parties to the conflict was necessary,” the ministry said, adding that such a step would help to speed resumption of the peace effort.
“The Taliban were very, very positive and they want to resume talks,” a Pakistani official told DPA, requesting anonymity.
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