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Pak to host four-nation meet to discuss Afghan peace

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Pak to host four-nation meet to discuss Afghan peaceIslamabad: The US, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China will meet here this week to discuss a roadmap for negotiating a peace deal with the Afghan Taliban to end the 15-year insurgency, amid a surge in violence in the war-torn country.

It would be the first meeting since the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) met in Kabul on February 23 and announced talks would start in the first week of March, but the process could not begin as Taliban refused to join.

Official sources said special envoys of China and the US and senior officials of Pakistan and Afghanistan were expected to attend the meeting schedule on May 18 in Islamabad.

“The group would discuss how to make more concerted efforts for peace talks to start,” said the sources.

Initially the group was supposed to meet after the conslutation between Taliban and Afghan officials. But the process ran a dead end following the terrible Kabul bombing last month which killed more than 64 people.

The Express Tribune reported that Afghanistan wants the Taliban to be declared ‘irreconcilable’ as they have publicly refused to engage in talks.

Afghan Ambassador to Islamabad, Omar Zakhilwal, said this yesterday ahead of the upcoming QCG meeting.

“We expect the QCG meeting to agree on implementation of the roadmap the group had agreed upon in its meeting on February 6,” Zakhilwal said while referring to the quartet call for the Taliban to shun violence and join direct talks by the first week of March.

“The roadmap is precisely about the steps the QCG members were to take in their respective domains both during peace talks, if they commenced, as well as if the Taliban refused to join talks. Now since the Taliban have publicly refused to join talks and opted for more violence the second scenario is applicable,” the daily quoted Zakhilwal as saying.

“They must be declared ‘irreconcilable’ and action taken against them as was agreed in the roadmap,” he added.

Zakhiwal travelled to Kabul following his meeting with Pakistan Army chief General Raheel Sharif where they agreed to reopen the Torkham border crossing. The border remained closed for four days after Afghan security forces objected to the fencing of the border by Pakistani authorities.

After years of denial, the Pakistani government recently admitted that the Taliban leadership enjoys safe haven inside the country.

Taliban insurgents in recent months have repeatedly seized control of parts of the more than 2,000-mile-long Ring Road network, which connects major Afghan population centres.


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