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Zalmay Khalilzad arrives in Pakistan for talks with civil, military leadership

The US Secretary of State’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, arrived in Pakistan on Thursday, two days later than expected.

According to the Foreign Office, Khalilzad had taken the Pakistan side into confidence about the delay in his arrival in the country.

The spokesperson did not specify the length of the envoy’s stay, saying that the visit could span over one to four days. The spokesperson confirmed that senior US official Lisa Curtis will also accompany Khalilzad in the meetings.

According to FO Spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal, Khalilzad is expected to meet Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders during his stay and he will ask Pakistan to help convince the Afghan Taliban to come back to the negotiation table. “Pakistan has also maintained we want an Afghan-led Afghan-owned solution to imbroglio,” said the FO spokesperson.

He added that Pak-US relations, the Afghan peace process and border management will also be discussed during the meetings the envoy conducts.

Khalilzad is leading an intra-agency delegation and will meet officials in each country in order to “facilitate an inclusive peace process in Afghanistan”, a handout from the US State Department said.

The envoy’s four-nation trip is expected to end on Jan 21.

A press release from the US State Department had stressed that the US’ desire to reach a “political settlement” to the Afghan conflict and “empower the Afghan people to chart a shared course for their nation’s future”.

“The United States supports the desire of the Afghan people and the international community for a political settlement that ends the 40-year conflict and ensures Afghanistan never again serves as a platform for international terrorism,” the statement added.

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It further claimed that the US goal is to “promote dialogue among Afghans” and ensure that all concerned parties reach a solution that will allow “every Afghan citizen [to] enjoy equal rights and responsibilities under the rule of law”.

The US special envoy is actively trying to broker a political solution to the Afghan conflict and has held multiple meetings with the leadership of Afghanistan as well as that of other countries in the region, including Pakistan.

He has also held three rounds of talks with the Afghan Taliban in order to reach a settlement that would allow the US to withdraw its army and end a 17-year-old war — America’s longest.

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