FO welcomes fresh talks with Afghan Taliban

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ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Monday welcomed a new round of talks between the Afghan Taliban and other international stakeholders expected to be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
“Along with with international community and other stakeholders, Pakistan is committed to peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan,” said FO Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal on Twitter. “Talks are being held in UAE. We hope this will end bloodshed in Afghanistan and bring peace to the region.”
According to media, Taliban said that another meeting is to be held today [Monday] with the United States, this time in the UAE. They said that the talks will involve representatives of Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Pakistan — although Dr Faisal did not confirm the same in his tweet.
Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid offered no further details. Khalil Minawi, director of Afghanistan’s state-run Bakhtar news agency, also confirmed the meeting. He said on Twitter that officials from the United States, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the UAE held meetings on Sunday ahead of “the Pakistani-sponsored US-Taliban meeting”.
The US State Department has neither denied nor confirmed earlier meetings, but US special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad previously said he has met with all Afghans involved in the 17-year war.
Khalilzad has already held two rounds of talks with the Taliban in Doha. The US media described these talks as “preliminary discussions”, adding that Washington hopes these contacts would pave the way for more substantial talks on a roadmap for peace in Afghanistan.
Earlier this month, US President Donald Trump wrote to Prime Minister Khan, seeking his help to bring the Taliban to the table for negotiations. A day later, Khalilzad visited Islamabad where he met the prime minister and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, to follow-up on President Trump’s request.
The prime minister told reporters in Peshawar on Friday that the US had changed its tune by requesting help instead of saying Islamabad was not doing enough, as US officials have previously insisted.

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