Khalilzad holds talks with Pak FM on Afghan peace process

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad held talks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi here 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, Xinhua news agency quoted the Pakistan Foreign Ministry as saying in a statement.

During the meeting on Wednesday, 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.

The Minister expressed the hope that release of prisoners would be completed soon to pave the way for the earliest commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations.

Under the Taliban-US agreement signed on February 29, the Afghan government would release 5,000 Taliban prisoners and the Taliban would free 1,000 prisoners of the government.

The slow pace of the release of prisoners has delayed the intra-Afghan dialogue, which was scheduled to start on March 10.

Qureshi also raised the issue of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and underlined the role of the international community for a time-bound and well-resourced roadmap for the return of Afghan refugees to their homeland with dignity and honour.

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