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Pakistan to host US-Taliban talks on February 18

New Delhi, News Nation Bureau | Updated : 14 February 2019, 07:02 AM
The Taliban also announced a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad for
The Taliban also announced a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad for "comprehensive discussions" about bilateral affairs with Afghanistan

The Taliban on Wednesday said that its negotiators would meet US envoys for talks this month in Islamabad, and also sit down with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to discuss Afghanistan. This comes after America's chief negotiator tours the globe shoring up support for a peace process to end its longest war. However, Washington has not confirmed the meeting plans. Zalmay Khalilzad, a former ambassador to Afghanistan, held extensive talks with the militants last month in Qatar, where the Taliban have an office. More talks are slated for later in February. “Separate meetings would be held first on February 18 in Islamabad by the formal invitation of the government of Pakistan," read a statement issued by Taliban on Wednesday.

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Talks in Doha would follow a week later on February 25, the statement said.

Khalilzad is heading a large delegation on a tour of Belgium, Germany, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan and Pakistan to boost the peace process and bring all Afghan parties to the table. He has expressed cautious hope for a deal before Afghan presidential elections slated for July

President Ashraf Ghani who has expressed frustration at being side-lined from recent talks -- flew to Munich on Wednesday to attend an international security conference, his office said.

The Taliban also announced a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad for "comprehensive discussions" about bilateral affairs with Afghanistan.

News reports in Pakistan last month had suggested Islamabad was open to hosting the next round of talks with the insurgents.

In January, as he travelled the region building support for the peace process, Khalilzad met Khan in Pakistan -- one of just three countries that recognised the Taliban regime before their ousting by US-led forces in 2001.

Pakistan's foreign ministry said in December that President Donald Trump, who is pushing to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan, wrote to Khan seeking Islamabad's support for peace efforts.

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Ties between Washington and Islamabad have soured recently.

US officials have repeatedly accusing Pakistan of turning a blind eye to, or even collaborating with, the Afghan Taliban, which launch attacks in Afghanistan from alleged havens along the border between the two countries.

First Published: Thursday, February 14, 2019 06:59 AM
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