ISLAMABAD: US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad on Friday held meetings with Minister for Foreign Affairs Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and expressed his gratitude for Pakistan’s facilitation of the Afghan peace process.
According to a press release issued by the foreign office, Khalilzad — who arrived in Pakistan today from Qatar — met with Qureshi at the Foreign Office in Islamabad. During their exchange, the US envoy praised Pakistan’s efforts for lasting peace in Afghanistan while briefing the foreign minister about the most recent talks with the Taliban.
“The finalisation of a peace treaty between the Taliban and the US will pave the way for inter-Afghan dialogue, which would not only benefit Afghanistan but the whole region,” Qureshi was quoted as saying.
During the meeting, Qureshi assured the US envoy that Pakistan will continue to support efforts to bring peace in Afghanistan. Both sides agreed to carry on their respective efforts in this regard.
In a separate meeting with Gen Bajwa at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, Khalilzad discussed “matters of mutual interest including overall regional security situation and ongoing Afghanistan Reconciliation Process”, a statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations said.
According to the statement, the US envoy “thanked Pakistan for facilitating the process towards the mutual objective of peace in the region”.
Khalilzad’s visit comes after an escalation in tensions between the Taliban and the Afghan forces and as another round of talks kicked off, with the US envoy holding several meetings with the Taliban’s chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
Sources aware of the developments that took place during the talks in Doha said the Taliban had agreed internally to halt attacks against US forces and “reduce” assaults against Afghan government interests, but clashes between the Taliban and Afghan forces have risen.
At least 29 members of the Afghan security forces have been killed in Taliban attacks that followed air and ground assaults by government forces on the group over the last weekend.
Afghan forces and the Taliban also clashed on Tuesday when security personnel tried to access the site of a crashed US military plane in central Afghanistan.
US forces were later able to access the site and recover the remains of two personnel and what is believed to be the flight data recorder.
Earlier, the Afghan defence ministry said on Sunday that government forces had killed 51 Taliban fighters in assaults last weekend.