Pak assures US of support to Afghan peace talks

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses a Kashmir rally in Islamabad, Pakistan. (PTI Photo)

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has assured the US of its "steadfast" support to the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan, stressing on the importance for all parties to the conflict to take "practical" steps to reduce hostilities in the war-torn nation.

In a meeting with the visiting US chief negotiator for Afghan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, on Monday, Khan said, "Achieving sustainable peace and security and ensuring long-term development, progress and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region was in Pakistan's best national interest."

He reiterated "Pakistan's steadfast and sincere support to the Afghan peace and reconciliation process launched since last year", the prime minister's office said in a statement issued late Monday night.

The prime minister also stressed that it was "important for all sides to take practical steps" to reduce violence in Afghanistan, it said.

Khan said Pakistan remains ready to do everything possible in its capacity, as part of shared responsibility, for early conclusion of a peace deal.

Khalilzad's trip to Islamabad is part of a recent effort to revive the stalled peace talks with the Taliban, which were cancelled by US President Donald Trump in September after a suicide attack, claimed by Taliban, in Kabul killed a US soldier and 11 others.

The US-Taliban talks had collapsed after nine rounds of talks between the US and Taliban representatives, held in Doha, the capital of the Gulf state of Qatar.

The US envoy visited Islamabad a day after briefing leaders in Kabul on his renewed Afghan peace-building efforts. It was Khalilzad's first visit to Afghanistan after Trump abruptly ended the talks with the Taliban insurgents.

On Friday last, in a day-long talk in Moscow, representatives of Pakistan, Russia, China and the US have agreed that negotiation is the only road to peace in Afghanistan, including an early resumption of direct US talks with the Taliban.

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