Pakistan

Pakistan and Afghan leaders vow to resume Taliban peace talks

ISLAMABAD: The leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed to work together to revive stalled peace talks with Taliban insurgents after meeting on the sidelines of a climate change conference in Paris, officials said.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani met Monday amid heightened tensions over Kabul’s accusations that Islamabad aided the Taliban in their brief capture of the northern Afghan city of Kunduz in late September.

Pakistan, which wields considerable influence over the militants, hosted a historic first round of peace negotiations in July.

But the talks stalled soon thereafter when the Taliban belatedly confirmed the death of their longtime leader Mullah Omar.

The United States and China have been pushing for the process to restart, but frosty ties between Islamabad and Kabul have been hampering those efforts.

A Pakistan government statement late Monday said Ghani and Sharif had discussed the negotiations while they were in Paris.

“Both leaders agreed to work with all those who would enter such a process as legitimate political actors and act, alongside the Afghan government, against those who refuse to take the path of peace,” the statement said.

Hopes for better ties were high after Ghani’s election last year. But they have since plummeted, with Kabul blaming Islamabad for a surge in Taliban violence in 2015.

The Pakistani statement said Monday’s talks were held “in an atmosphere of warmth and cordiality”.

Sharif also met his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi at the conference, the government said in a statement issued in Paris late Monday.

“The Indian Prime Minister approached Premier Nawaz Sharif and had a brief meeting with him,” the statement said, adding that the leaders seemed “friendly” and parted with a “warm handshake”.

India and Pakistan have been arch-rivals since gaining independence from Britain in 1947 and have fought three wars.

Speaking at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, Sharif outlined a four-point initiative to ease tensions between the two nuclear-armed countries.

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