Pakistan approaches Taliban factions for Afghan peace talks

Islamabad, Feb 26 (IANS) Pakistan said it was approaching all factions of Taliban and other groups to bring them to negotiating table for the direct peace talks with the Afghan government.

The comments came days after Afghan, Pakistani, Chinese and US officials agreed to facilitate the direct talks between the Afghan government, Taliban groups and Hizb-e-Islami by the first week of March, Xinhua reported.

Pakistan will host the talks, according to a joint statement issued at the conclusion of the fourth meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group.

“All Taliban factions had been invited to participate through their authorised representatives in the first round of direct peace talks, expected to take place in March’s first week in Islamabad,” Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesman Mohammad Nafees Zakaria said on Thursday.

The Taliban spokesman has told the media that the group’s political office and the central leaders were unaware of the talks offer.

Hizb-e-Islami’s political affairs in-charge Ghairat Baheer said his group was considering the talks offer.

The Pakistani spokesman said it was decided with consensus that the talks under the QCG process will be without pre-conditions.

“All four countries that constitute the QCG have a joint responsibility to move the reconciliation process forward and make a direct dialogue between the Afghan government and various Taliban groups and others possible,” Zakaria said.

He said all the four countries involved in the reconciliation process share responsibility to approach the Taliban/Afghan factions who are to be invited for the talks.

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