Pakistani officials, Taliban meet in Islamabad to discuss Afghan talks

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Pakistan said on Tuesday that it would continue to support an “-led” and “Afghan-owned” peace process in Afghanistan for peace and stability in the region.

“The Foreign Minister emphasized the implementation of the U.S.- Peace Agreement, in its entirety, paving the way for the earliest possible commencement of Intra-Afghan Negotiations,” the Foreign Office said after a meeting between Taliban delegates and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

A delegation of the Afghan Taliban headed by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar arrived in on August 23 on the invitation of Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is the second visit of members of the Afghan Taliban to Pakistan since October 2019.

The foreign minister told the Afghan Taliban that the stakeholders in Afghanistan must seize the opportunity to “secure an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive negotiated political solution” in Afghanistan.

“The Foreign Minister also underscored the need for creating economic opportunities and an environment conducive for return of Afghan refugees to their homeland with dignity and honour,” the Foreign Office said in its statement. It said that Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar thanked the Pakistani government and the people of Pakistan for their “consistent support” to the people of Afghanistan.

between Taliban, Afghan government

The talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government are part of a peace agreement signed between the US and the insurgent group in February this year. Under the agreement, the US will pull out its troops from Afghanistan within 14 months.

The negotiations were to be held after the release of 5,000 Taliban fighters under the agreement between the insurgent group and the US. However, Kabul has released around 4,000 Taliban prisoners and there is a deadlock on the release of the remaining ‘hardcore’ militants.

Till now, the Afghan government and the Taliban have not set a date for the talks but the group’s chief negotiator Sher Abbas Stanekzai told Arab News that his leader has formed a 20-member team for talks with President Ashraf Ghani’s government.

The report quoted Stanekzai as saying that the negotiation team has been given the decision-making power and it would take the peace process forward.

The Taliban chief negotiator, however, said that they would not talk with the Afghan authorities until they release Taliban prisoners.

“Every prisoner is a hero,” the Arab News quoted him as saying.

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