PM Imran meets US peace envoy, pledges help on Afghan war

Imaduddin December 6, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan met with a US peace envoy on Wednesday and pledged his help to find a political settlement to the long-running war in neighbouring Afghanistan.

The visit to Islamabad by Zalmay Khalilzad, US special representative to Afghanistan, followed President Donald Trump’s request for Pakistan’s help in finding an end to the 17-year-old war between Taliban insurgents and the western-backed Afghan government.

Khalilzad, an Afghan-born US diplomat who served as George W. Bush’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations, was named by Trump three months ago as a special envoy to negotiate peace in Afghanistan.

“The prime minister reiterated Pakistan’s abiding interest in achieving peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan through political settlement,” Khan’s office said in a statement.

Trump’s overture to Khan followed an exchange of barbed tweets between the leaders last month.

Officially allies in fighting terrorism, Pakistan and the United States have a complicated relationship, bound by Washington’s dependence on Pakistan to supply its troops in Afghanistan, where the United States still has 14,000 troops, but plagued by accusations Islamabad is playing a double game.

US officials have for years been pushing Pakistan to lean on Taliban leaders, who Washington says are based inside Pakistan, to bring them to the negotiating table.

The US and Afghanistan have long accused Pakistan of covertly sheltering Taliban, which Islamabad denies.

The statement quoted Khalilzad as saying that the US leadership looked forward to working with Pakistan in furthering the shared goal of peace.

Copyright Reuters, 2018

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