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Taliban soon to join peace process: Pakistani official

AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said that Afghan Taliban would soon join the Afghan peace process.

“Efforts are underway that all factions of Afghan Taliban are united before the end of this month,” The Nation, a Pakistani newspaper, quoted Aizaz while briefing his country’s Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs the other day.

Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said that the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), comprised of Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China, is trying that all factions of the Taliban get united by the end of this month before joining the peace talks.

The four nations group has decided to give the reconciliation process a chance, Aizaz told in a response to a question about what other options are on table with the QCG in case some factions of Afghan Taliban don’t join the talks.

The third meeting of the QCG was held in Islamabad on February 6.

Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry hosted the meeting. Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard G. Olson and China’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan Ambassador Deng Xijun attended the third round of QCG meeting in Islamabad.

Building on the progress made in the last two meetings, the group explored ways for holding early direct peace talks between the authorized representatives of the Afghan government and Taliban group. In this regard, the group also adopted a roadmap stipulating the stages and steps in the process.

The group stressed that the outcome of the reconciliation process should be a political settlement that results in the cessation of violence and durable peace in Afghanistan.

Towards this end, the QCG representatives agreed to continue joint efforts for setting a date for direct peace talks between the representatives of the Afghan government and Taliban groups expected to take place by the end of February 2016. The QCG members called on all Taliban groups to join the peace talks. The QCG agreed to continue regular meetings to ensure a smooth way forward in the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. The group agreed to hold its next meeting in Kabul on February 23.

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