PM Khan meets US en­voy, vows help on Afghan war

Gulf Times - - PAKISTAN -

Pak­istani Prime Min­is­ter Im­ran Khan met with a US peace en­voy yes­ter­day and pledged his help to find a po­lit­i­cal set­tle­ment to the lon­grun­ning 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 two 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.

Islamabad has promised in the past to work to help bring the Afghan Tal­iban to the ne­go­ti­a­tion ta­ble, but this will be the first at­tempt for Khan’s new gov­ern­ment, in power since Au­gust.

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

Prime Min­is­ter Im­ran Khan ... abid­ing in­ter­est in achiev­ing peace and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion in Afghanistan through po­lit­i­cal set­tle­ment

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