Pakistan

Four-nation talks on Afghan peace process begin in Islamabad

ISLAMABAD: A four-nation meeting has been underway in Islamabad aimed at reviving dialogue and furthering reconciliation between Kabul and the Afghan Taliban, ARY News reported.

The meeting started at 10:00 am on Monday being attended by the representatives of Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, while addressing the opening session of the meeting, said Pakistan wants to further the peace process in Afghanistan.

He expressed Pakistan’s hope of lasting peace in Afghanistan and efforts to bring Taliban to the dialogue process.

He said the meeting of the Quadrilateral Group has a great significance. He said the foremost task of the group is to define the overall direction of the reconciliation process along with goals and targets to set with a view to creating conducive environment for holding directing talks between Afghan Government and Taliban groups.

The Advisor expressed confidence that the meeting will be able to evolve an efficient procedural framework to provide the basis for smooth functioning of the group.

He said Pakistan is firmly committed to continue serious efforts for long-term peace and stability in the country.

Some analysts hope the added presence of China and the United States may help overcome mistrust between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The talks are meant to lay the groundwork for direct dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban, whose bloody insurgency shows no signs of abating more than 14 years after they were ousted from power by a US-led coalition.

A spokesman for Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah had said yesterday that the Pakistani government will present a list of Taliban who are willing to talk and those who are not interested in talks.

A first round of dialogue with the Taliban was held in July but collapsed after the group belatedly confirmed their Mullah Omar was dead.

News of his death led to infighting between senior Taliban leaders and the group’s new chief Mullah Akhtar Mansour, which in turn led to the creation of a new faction headed by Mohamed Rasool in November.

In September the Taliban briefly seized the northern provincial capital of Kunduz — the first time they had gained control of a city since the fall of their regime in 2001.

And in recent weeks they have seized large swathes of the district of Sangin in the southern province of Helmand, their traditional stronghold.

Observers say the intensifying fighting highlights a push by the militants to seize more territory to try to secure greater concessions during any direct talks.

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