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Pakistan can play critical role to bring Taliban to talks: US

WASHINGTON: Sticking to its do-more mantra, the United States (US) has said Pakistan has taken some positive steps in the right direction, but a lot more needs to be done in terms of cracking down not just on the Taliban, but the Haqqani Network and other terror networks as well.

At a news briefing, US State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert said: “we’ve certainly seen Pakistan take some positive steps in the right direction, but a lot more needs to be done, in terms of Pakistan cracking down not just on the Taliban, but the Haqqani Network and other terror networks as well.”

She was responding to a question about whether Pakistan has come any closer to satisfying the conditions the Trump administration has laid out to unfreeze the military assistance.

Briefing on a recent meeting between Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and US Vice President Mike Pence, she said they talked about the overall South Asia strategy, and the administration’s South Asia strategy.

“The US vice president said the Government of Pakistan has to do more to address the continued presence of terrorism in Pakistan. There’s a lot more that they can do, but they can also play a critical role in getting the Taliban to come to the table in Pakistan,” she added.

Earlier, the White House in a statement about the meeting had said: “Vice President Pence reiterated President (Donald) Trump’s request that the Government of Pakistan must do more to address the continued presence of the Taliban, Haqqani Network, and other terrorist groups operating in their country.” 

“Pakistan could and should work closer with the United States,” Pence said.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani last month proposed peace talks with the Taliban, which could eventually be recognized as a political party if it observes a ceasefire and officially recognizes the Afghan government and constitution.

The Taliban has stopped short of rejecting the proposal, but its response has been muted.

President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani has extended an official invitation to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to visit Afghanistan.

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