4-nation group to discuss revival of Kabul-Taliban talks in Jan

ISLAMABAD: Senior officials from Pakistan, Afghanistan, the United States and China will meet in Pakistan in the first half of next month for reviving the reconciliation dialogue between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

“A meeting of the quadrilateral group will be held in Islamabad sometime between Jan 10 and 15,” Foreign Affairs Adviser Sartaj Aziz told Dawn.

The four countries had agreed this month on devising the mechanism to work together for resuming the reconciliation process that will be overseen by a steering committee.

Mr Aziz said the Afghan government wanted the reconciliation process to begin and violence in the country to decline.

Violence in Afghanistan has gone up since the Afghan security forces took over full responsibility from Nato forces after their combat mission ended last December.

Participants at the coming meeting will decide the modalities for resumption of the Afghan peace dialogue that has been suspended since July 30.

They are also likely to take a decision about the roles that the countries will be expected to play at various stages of the reconciliation process which will be led by the Afghan government.

“All the four countries have their own contacts (with the warring sides). The meeting will look at who has influence with whom and how the dialogue can be started and taken forward,” Mr Aziz said while talking to reporters at a ceremony.

Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif stressed during his meetings with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul on Sunday that the resumption and success of the reconciliation process was a “shared responsibility of all stakeholders”.

There has been an agreement on formulating a policy through consensus on dealing with the irreconcilable elements.

China has welcomed the progress. “China stays open to any initiative that will lead to national peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. China will continue to play a constructive role to this end and remain in contact and coordination with all parties,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a press conference in Beijing.

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