Pak PM discusses Afghan peace process with US VP

ANI | Updated: Mar 17, 2018 15:02 IST

Washington D.C. [US], Mar 17 (ANI): Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi held an unscheduled meeting with US Vice-President Michael Pence regarding the Afghanistan conflict in Washington on Friday.

A half an hour one-on-one meeting took place at the residence of Pence situated at US Naval Observatory close to the Pakistan embassy in Washington, as reported by the Dawn.

They discussed regarding the on-going peace process between the Afghanistan ruling political party led by Ashraf Ghani and the militant group Taliban that has been active in the country since 1994.

During the meeting, Abbas assured Pence of Pakistan's "sincere commitment" to the efforts initiated to facilitate the peace process in Afghanistan while highlighting the successful efforts undertaken by Pakistan to combat terror within its own territory.

On the other hand, Pence assured the US leader that no other state wants peace in Afghanistan more than Pakistan does as it shall directly benefit the latter.

Diplomatic observers in Washington have viewed the Pence-Abbasi meeting as a continuation of their talks on the sidelines of the session of UN General Assembly in New York held on September 20, 2017, which helped to move forward their bilateral relations.

During the September meeting, the two allies had resolved to remain engaged and carry forward the relationship that had been on a downward trajectory since the announcement of the US policy for Afghanistan and South Asia in August 2017.

US officials have appreciated the efforts of Pakistan to take some positive steps for restoring peace to Afghanistan. Further, the officials noted that such an attitude showcased by Pakistan would encourage Taliban militant group to participate in the reconciliation process.

Abbasi also held a brief meeting with senior US lawmakers where they discussed regarding the close proximity being shared by Pakistan and China.

He further assured the US lawmakers that "Pakistan's close relations with China should not be a cause of concern for the US" as Islamabad "wants close friendly ties with both China and the United States."

While discussing bilateral relations, the lawmakers conveyed their concern about blasphemy cases against Christians in Pakistan, the sources added.

Further, they also focused on the current situation in Afghanistan but they expressed "their concern about China's growing influence in Pakistan" as well, sources told Dawn.

Earlier on Friday, United Nations Security Council urged Taliban group to participate in the peace process initiated by the Afghan government to enable Taliban to be converted into a political group without any preconditions or resorting to violent threats.

On February 28, Afghan president Ashraf Ghani dwelled on a plan to conduct peace process with Taliban which might include the latter to be declared as a political organisation. (ANI)