Ghani, Abdullah have no rift over Taliban talks: Zakhilwal
PESHAWAR (Pajhwok): A top Afghan diplomat says there are no differences between President Ashraf Ghani and his Chief Executive Dr. Abdullah on peace talks with the Taliban.
The Voice of America quoted Dr. Omar Zakhilwal as rejecting US intelligence assessments that Afghanistan ran the risk of political breakdown in 2016 due to political disagreements, fragile economy and deteriorating security.
“They have been proven wrong before and they will be proven wrong again… there is enough maturity within the politicians of Afghanistan to understand the risks of following any path other than positive engagements...” he said.
Direct parleys with the Taliban would begin before the end of February without preconditions from any side, he hoped, saying efforts were being made to select a venue for the meeting.
Islamabad’s positivecooperation was key to rekindling hopes for peace in Afghanistan, acknowledged Zakhilwal. “I am very positive that we will,” he said in response to the query whether the Afghan government and the Taliban would come to the negotiating table this month.
However, he hastened to add: “We are under no illusion that as soon as we sit with the Taliban, by the end of the day, we will have a settlement out of it. So it's going to be a prolonged process;
“I hope not so prolonged that people at the end will lose hope in it, but at least it certainly cannot happen in a meeting or two,” the ambassador continued, calling pessimism in Kabul over Pakistan’s assistance a challenge to Ghani’s renewed outreach to Islamabad.
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