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Khalilzad in Pakistan for fresh Afghan peace push

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KABUL: To push the Afghan peace process and to discuss the current round of talks with Taliban representative in Doha of Qatar, the US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad has reached Islamabad on Friday, and hold talks with the country’s authorities.

According to Pakistani media, he met Pakistani Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and discussed the Afghan reconciliation process. He also met with the Pakistan Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and termed Pakistan’s role important in the ongoing peace talks.

Khalilzad and Bajwa spoke regarding matters of mutual interest, including the Afghan reconciliation process.

Querishi also assured his country’s support to the Afghan peace process. “The finalization of a peace deal between the Taliban and the US will pave the way for inter-Afghan dialogue, which would not only benefit Afghanistan but the whole region,” Querishi was quoted as saying.

The meeting between the two takes place a couple of weeks after the Taliban showed a “willingness to reduce violence”, according to Pakistan.

“The Taliban have expressed their willingness to the demand of reduction in violence. In my opinion, this is a step towards a peace agreement,” Qureshi had said a couple of weeks ago in a video message.

Khalizad’s trip to Islamabad came days after he briefed the allies at NATO headquarter in Brussels.

The NATO senior civilian representative to Afghanistan, Nicholas Kay and US top Gen. Scott Miller had also participated the meeting.

Khalilzad has so far held 11th rounds of peace talks with the Taliban Qatar-based political office.

He had earlier presented the Taliban with an offer of a ten day ceasefire agreement, but after rounds of consultation in the group’s leadership in Pakistan-where the militants enjoy safe haven, the Taliban has decided on a short time reduction of violence – an offer which the Afghan government has repeatedly declined as a forward step towards ensuring peace.

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