WASHINGTON Pakistan must take on a substantive role in peace talks with the Taliban if the war in neighbouring Afghanistan is to be ended, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said.
In a strong message to Pakistan, Mattis has said it is time for everyone to support the efforts of the UN, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and all those who are trying to maintain peace in South Asia.
Pakistan must take on a substantive role in peace talks with the Taliban if the war in neighbouring Afghanistan is to be ended, he said.
Mr. Mattis was responding to a question from reporters about the letter written by the President Donald Trump to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, seeking his support in the peace process in Afghanistan. In his letter, Mr. Trump has made it clear that Pakistans full support over the issue is fundamental to building an enduring US-Pakistan partnership.
Were looking for every responsible nation to support peace in the sub-continent and across this war in Afghanistan thats gone on now for 40 years, he told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday as he welcomed Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for talks.
Its time for everyone to get on board, support the United Nations; support Prime Minister Modis, [Afghan] President [Ashraf] Ghani and all those who are trying to maintain peace and make for a better world here, Mattis said.
We are on that track. It is diplomatically led as it should be, and well do our best to protect the Afghan people, he added.
Pakistan assures US of support in Afghan endgame
Pakistan on Tuesday assured all-out support to the US for a negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict. The assurance was given by Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi to US Special Envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad.
Washingtons special envoy, tasked with finding a negotiated end to Afghanistans bloody 17-year-old war, will hold talks with Pakistani officials at the Foreign Office on the regional situation and Afghan reconciliation process.
Khalilzad reiterated President Trumps desire to seek cooperation of Pakistan for peace and stability in Afghanistan, Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said in a tweet on social media.
Peace in Afghanistan is in the best interest of Pakistan, Qureshi told the US envoy and assured continued support of the country to seek an early solution to the conflict.
Dr Faisal further tweeted that during his visit to Islamabad, the US special representative also held a meeting with Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua and discussed issues pertaining to peace and political settlement in Afghanistan.
Officials from both sides were also present during the meeting.
Meanwhile, a foreign news agency reported that some members from the Afghan Talibans political office in Qatar were also in the federal capital.
But the visit by the Taliban leaders, which included a former Taliban ambassador and a former governor who is also on a United Nations sanctions list, is private, the official said on condition of anonymity.
The Taliban official said, the groups Qatar office sent Shaha-ud-din Dilawar, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia; Zia-ur-Rahman Madani, former governor of Logar province who is on the UN sanctions list for providing funding for the Taliban; Suhail Shaheen, a former diplomat and Sala Hanafi.
There was no indication who the four might meet or how long they would stay in Pakistan but it was expected their visit would be a prelude to further discussions in Qatar when Khalilzad visits later this month.
Since his appointment in September, US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has accelerated efforts to find an Afghan peace pact that would allow for the eventual withdrawal of the United States from its longest war, which has already cost Washington nearly $1 trillion
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