Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will embark on a day-long visit to Qatar on Thursday, just two days before the US and Afghan Taliban would sign a landmark peace deal in Doha.
“As part of regular exchange of high-level visits, Prime Minister Imran Khan will be visiting Qatar on February 27, 2020, to meet His Highness Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar,” The Express Tribune quoted a Foreign Office statement as saying on Wednesday night.
This will be the premier’s second visit to Qatar after assuming office in 2018.
However, PM Khan would not attend the signing ceremony which is scheduled for Saturday.
Earlier on Tuesday, Qatar extended a formal invitation to Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to attend the signing ceremony of the landmark peace deal between the US and Afghan Taliban in Doha.
The US-Taliban deal will lay the ground for a crucial intra-Afghan dialogue focusing on the future of Afghanistan and a permanent ceasefire.
Last year, in September, Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation had said that the US and Taliban are “at the threshold of an agreement” that would reduce violence and open the door for Afghans to sit together and negotiate.
On December 19, Khalilzad also said that the US and Taliban were approaching an important stage in the Afghan peace process.
In August, peace talks between Washington and the Taliban had to reach a deal on the withdrawal of thousands of American troops collapsed after President Trump cited an attack that killed a US soldier as his reason for pulling out of negotiations. The talks did not include the Afghan government.
The Taliban had never agreed to end their violent campaign against Afghan and foreign forces while negotiations were taking place. Sixteen US troops have been killed this year.
In 2001, US-led forces overthrew the Taliban government in Afghanistan because the militants had given safe haven to the Al-Qaeda network to plan the attacks on the US on September 11.