Pakistan hails Afghan peace talks as breakthrough

Islamabad, (IANS) Pakistan on Thursday described peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban it had hosted this week as a major “breakthrough”.

An Afghan government delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Khalil Hekmat Karzai met face-to-face with senior Taliban leaders at Pakistan’s scenic Murree city near Islamabad for their first direct talks.

Both sides agreed to continue the talks and hold a second meeting after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan that ends next week.

“Talks between the representatives of Afghan government and Tehrek-e-Taliban Afghanistan were a breakthrough, as it was for the first time that both sides had held direct talks,” Xinhua quoted Pakistani foreign ministry spokesperson Qazi Khalilullah as saying.

Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry was the facilitator during the talks, which were held in a cordial atmosphere, he said.

The spokesperson said both sides had exchanged views on ways and means to bring peace and reconciliation to Afghanistan, and agreed that each side would approach the process in sincerity and with full commitment.

The world community including the UN, China and the US, welcomed and assured support for the process.

“There is a lot of support at the international level for the peace process and reconciliation process in Afghanistan. The White House, Chinese foreign ministry and UN secretary general have welcomed the talks and appreciated Pakistan’s role in hosting and facilitating them,” Khalilullah said.

He said Pakistan will continue playing the role as a facilitator as it is “committed to supporting an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process”.

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