Pakistan FM Requests US To Assist in Resuming India-Pakistan Talks

Pakistan Foreign Minister has requested the US to assist in commencing India-Pakistan dialogue and resolve all outstanding disputes between the two nuclear-armed neighbour. 

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The demand was made during a telephonic conversation between Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and his US counterpart Mike Pompeo, said a statement issued by the Foreign Office on Tuesday. Relations between the nuclear-armed rivals are tense since the attack in Jammu and Kashmir which killed over 40 CRFP soldiers.

The foreign minister informed the US foreign secretary about the de-escalatory measures taken by Pakistan including the handing over of captured Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman.

Both the leaders exchanged views on the current situation in the region, as well as discussed bilateral issues. “Both sides agreed that de-escalation was important for peace and stability in South Asia,” the communique read.

Qureshi said bilateral relations between Pakistan and the US carried special significance for peace and stability in the region. The US role for de-escalation in the region was laudable, he added.

The continuing Afghan peace process was also discussed during the telephonic conversation. The two leaders agreed to continue cooperation on the matter.

“They discussed Pakistan’s facilitating role and agreed that the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad’s forthcoming visit to Islamabad would provide an opportunity to further build on the gains made so far,” the statement said.

“The foreign minister reiterated that Intra-Afghan dialogue was an important component of the reconciliation process.”

Khalilzad, who is currently visiting Kabul, is due in Islamabad on Thursday.

In his ongoing visit to the Afghan capital, he held important meetings with the Afghan officials ahead of his next round of talks with the Taliban aimed at ending more than 17 years of war.

His last round of talks with the Taliban in Doha was originally slated to last two days in February, but dragged on for 16 days, eventually ending March 12 with Khalilzad saying “real strides” had been made.

On the table were proposals to get foreign armed forces to leave Afghanistan, and the Taliban to guarantee the country cannot be used as a springboard for terror groups to launch any future attacks.

According to the US State Department, Khalilzad’s trip was “part of an overall effort to facilitate a peace process that brings all Afghan parties together in inclusive intra-Afghan negotiations”. The Taliban have long refused to speak with Kabul, deeming the administration of President Ashraf Ghani — who is seeking re-election this year — puppets of the West.

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