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April 23, 2019

Two top US officials to visit Islamabad, Delhi within 15 days

Top Story

April 23, 2019

WASHINGTON: Two top US officials will be visiting Islamabad and New Delhi over the next 10 days to discuss regional security as well as bilateral issues of mutual interest.

The State Department issued a travel schedule of Alice Wells, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs. Alice Wells and Zalmay Khalilzad, the administration's special envoy, will be in the region meeting different stakeholders.

Alice Wells will travel to New Delhi, India; Thimpu, Bhutan and Islamabad, Pakistan from April 21 to 30; while Zalmay Khalilzad will be visiting Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia and the UK from April 21 to May 11, as part of the overall effort to facilitate a political settlement that ends the conflict in Afghanistan.

The press note issued said that Alice Wells will meet with senior Indian government officials to discuss the US-India cooperation in promoting a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region and continue to advance initiatives agreed upon at the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue last fall. While in Islamabad, she will meet senior Pakistani government officials to discuss bilateral issues of mutual interest including trade, investment, and regional stability.

Meanwhile, Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad will consult with the Afghan government and other Afghans to encourage all parties to work towards intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations to determine a final peace settlement.

In London, Moscow, Islamabad and New Delhi, he will work to build international support for the Afghan peace process to help ensure that any peace settlement reached will be sustainable, the statement said adding, "In Doha, he will continue to press forward on negotiations with the Taliban to reach a consensus on core national security issues, and urge their participation in an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue."

Just two days ago, US Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to condemn the Taliban’s recent announcement of a spring offensive. The Secretary underscored the United States’ solidarity with the Afghan people’s pursuit of a comprehensive peace agreement that would end the suffering and destruction.

According to the State Department's spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, the Secretary also expressed the United States’ disappointment that the intra-Afghan dialogue, planned for Doha, Qatar, had been postponed.

"The Secretary and President Ghani agreed that the Doha conference presents an important opportunity to advance peace. The Secretary encouraged all sides to seize the moment and reach an understanding on participants, so that an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue can be convened in Doha as soon as possible," the department said.

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