US stresses early resumption of Afghan peace parleys
PESHAWAR (Pajhwok): Currently in the thick of a succession struggle, the Taliban are not ready for resuming talks with the administration of President Ashraf Ghani until the resolution of their internal bickering, a Pakistani official said on Wednesday.
Islamabad hosted the first face-to-face peace negotiations between the two sides in July, but a second round that was due after Eidul Fitr had to be put on ice after reports of Taliban supreme leader Mullah Omar’s death were leaked to the media.
Following cancellation of the talks and a string of deadly attacks in Kabul, Afghan-Pakistan relations once again came under strain, with President Ghani taking a swipe at Islamabad for failing to rein in terrorists on its soil.
The security official, who did not want to be named, confided to Pajhwok Afghan News US National Security Advisor Susan Rice, during her recent visit to Islamabad, asked Pakistanto do more to ensure the early resumption of Afghan peace parleys.
At meetings with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif, Rice reaffirmed America’s interest in seeking a settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan. The official said she pushed Pakistan to lend its weight to the Afghan reconciliation effort.
He added the prime minister and his army chief met Tuesday night in Islamabad to discuss the Afghan reconciliation process. Gen Raheel briefed Sharif on his meetings with Rice and Special Assistant to President Obama for South Asian Affairs Dr Peter Lavoy.
“Pakistan has sought time for arranging a second round of talks between the Taliban and Afghan government representatives,”the source said, adding the insurgents wanted to sort out their differences over Mullah Mansoor’s appointment before returning to the negotiating table.
Sources said the military leadership told the US dignitaries that although Pakistan and the US were on the same page in connection with the Afghan reconciliation process, the Afghan Taliban were not willing to return to the negotiating table until resolution of their internal rifts.
“We remain on the same page with the US and Afghanistan on the counter-terrorism issue and the need for reconciliation in the neighbouring country. However, reconciling the Afghan antagonists will take time,” the official concluded.
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