PM reiterates Pak ‘abiding interest’ for Afghan peace

Imran-Khalizad.jpg

Meets US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad

Staff Reporter

Islamabad

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday reiterated Pakistan’s “abiding interest” in achieving lasting peace and reconciliation in war-torn Afghanistan through a political settlement.
The premier gave the reassurance during a meeting a with the US Special Envoy for Afghan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, who called on Khan at the Prime Minister House.
Khalilzad conveyed good wishes by President Donald Trump to Khan, saying the “US leadership looked forward to working with Pakistan in furthering the shared goal of peace through a political settlement in Afghanistan”, according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office.
During the “courtesy call” by the US envoy, Prime Minister Khan recalled his personal commitment to the cause of regional peace, the press release said.
He welcomed the letter written to him by President Trump seeking Pakistan’s cooperation in ending the 17-year-old Afghan conflict, as well as Washington’s “assurance to work with Pakistan on this shared objective”.
Khan also emphasised the importance of boosting regular bilateral engagement in priority areas especially trade, investment, education, health and social sector development, the statement said.
Ambassador Khalilzad is on his third visit to Pakistan since he took charge of the office dealing with peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan in September. He accompanied Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Islamabad just a day after his appointment and later visited the country again in October. His planned visit in November was cancelled because of scheduling issues. Despite reservations over his appointment, Pakistan extended full support to him because of its principled position about supporting efforts for peace in Afghanistan and secondly to capitalise on the shift in the Trump administration’s policy towards negotiations with the Taliban.
In a major gesture to Washington in October after Khalilzad’s visit, Pakistan had set free former Taliban deputy chief Mullah Baradar. Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal had on that occasion said that Baradar was released “at the US request in order to move forward on the shared objective of pursuing a political settlement in Afghanistan”.

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