ISLAMABAD: The United States said on Saturday it welcomes actions Pakistan is taking to promote a negotiated solution to the war in neighboring Afghanistan.
The acknowledgement came a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan announced his country has arranged another round of Washington’s peace talks with the Afghan Taliban scheduled for Monday.
“The United States welcomes any actions by the Pakistani government to promote greater cooperation, including fostering negotiations between the Taliban, the Afghan government, and other Afghans,” a US embassy spokesperson in Kabul told VOA.
US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, has met, and will continue to meet, with all interested parties, including the Taliban, to support a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan, the spokesperson added.
Neither Imran Khan nor the US spokesperson have disclosed the possible venue for the upcoming meeting with Taliban officials. Some Afghan sources say Monday’s meeting will take place in Islamabad, but no official confirmation is available.
Khalilzad, who is visiting regional countries to gather support for Afghan peace talks, is to lead the US delegation in talks with insurgent representatives. This will not be the first time Khalilzad has met with the Taliban.
Since taking office in September, the special US envoy has held two publicly known rounds of preliminary discussions with insurgent negotiators in Qatar, where the Taliban runs its so-called political office. The talks have been for the sake of talks, according to insurgent and other sources aware of the meetings.
US President Donald Trump earlier this month wrote a formal letter to Khan asking for his help to bring the Taliban to the table for negotiations. A day later, Khalilzad visited Islamabad where he met with Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, to follow-up on Trump’s request, Pakistani officials say.
Speaking in northwestern city of Peshawar on Friday, Imran Khan said the US has changed its tune by requesting help instead of saying Islamabad is not doing enough, as US officials have previously insisted.
“By the grace of Allah, the dialogue is now happening inshallah [God willing] on the 17th [Khan did not mention the month] and Pakistan has facilitated the talks between America and the Taliban,” Khan said. He did not share further details. According to Saba news, the next round of talks will be held in Dubai.
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