US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad on Wednesday held talks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the peace process in Afghanistan.
Khalilzad’s visit to Pakistan, the second one in a month, was part of his regular engagement for consultations and exchange of views on the Afghan peace and reconciliation process, the Pakistan Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
During the meeting, Qureshi welcomed the latest developments including announcements on formation of a negotiating team and establishment of the High Council for National Reconciliation by the Afghan government for the negotiations with the Taliban, according to the statement.
“He (Qureshi) urged that all sides should make earnest efforts for reduction in violence. He also emphasized that it was important not to let the spoilers undermine or derail the process of intra-Afghan negotiations,” the statement said.
In Februray, Khalilzad was spearheading the Afghan peace efforts, flew from Doha on an unscheduled visit to Islamabad.
He first held talks with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi at the Foreign Office and later met Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Qureshi earlier stressed the need for early conclusion of negotiations and peace deal in the larger interest of the peace process and reiterated that the only solution of the conflict was an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process that would help create a peaceful, stable and prosperous country.
The intra-Afghan talks which were slated to begin on March 10 in Oslo were delayed because of the issues over the timing of the Taliban prisoner release.
The US-Taliban deal signed in Qatar on February 29 calls for the release of up to 5,000 Taliban prisoners to open the way for intra-Afghan negotiations.
The release of the prisoners is part of a confidence-building measure to pave the way for the opening of direct talks between the government and the insurgents, after talks with both sides and the United States individually.