White House says, did seek help from Pakistan and wrote a letter

WASHINGTON: The White House on Tuesday confirmed that US President Donald Trump had written a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan.

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The letter was not shared with the media, but the National Security Council spokesperson shared that the US president requested full support for the Afghan peace process and urged cooperation for Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad’s trip to the region.

The letter recognizes that “Pakistan has the ability to deny the Taliban sanctuary on its territory,” the spokesperson said adding that the letter also makes clear that “Pakistan’s assistance with the Afghan peace process is fundamental to building an enduring US-Pakistan partnership.”

On Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan in an interview with TV anchors said he had received a letter from US President Trump. In the letter, Trump asked Pakistan to play its role in Afghan peace talks which are aimed at catalysing an end to the 17-year invasion of Afghanistan by US troops.

The prime minister said Trump had sought Pakistan’s assistance in bringing the Taliban leadership to the negotiating table.

“We will try to make the Afghan Taliban engage in dialogue with the US,” the prime minister replied when asked about the way forward following Trump’s letter.

Following Trump’s letter, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Islamabad on Tuesday.

During his meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the US envoy reiterated US President Donald Trump’s desire to seek Pakistan’s cooperation for peace and stability in Afghanistan. The foreign minister assured the US side of Pakistan’s steadfast support for a negotiated settlement.

“Pakistan will continue to cooperate with sincerity for political settlement in Afghanistan. Long-lasting peace in Afghanistan is in Pakistan’s best interest,” the foreign minister tweeted.

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