Pakistan calls for start of peace talks in Afghanistan

Islamabad, Aug 25 (efe-epa).- Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Tuesday called for starting the intra-Afghan peace negotiations during his meeting with a Taliban delegation, led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, chief negotiator for the insurgent group.

“The Foreign Minister emphasized the implementation of the U.S.-Taliban Peace Agreement, in its entirety, paving the way for the earliest possible commencement of Intra-Afghan Negotiations,” said the Pakistani foreign ministry in a statement.

In the press note, the Pakistani authorities also voiced their support for an “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process for durable peace, stability and posperity in the region.”

“Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to a peaceful, stable, united, democratic and properous Afghanistan,” added the statement.

Qureshi also urged the international community to support the economic development and reconstruction of Afghanistan.

The Taliban spokesman for its political office in Qatar, Suhail Shaheen, had said before the meeting that the Taliban delegation would discuss with the Pakistani authorities matters related to the peace process, trade between the two countries and the situation of Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

This is the second meeting between Qureshi and Baradar – who spent eight years in prison in Pakistan in Islamabad – after a meeting in October 2019, when they called for a resumption of talks with the United States.

The intra-Afghan peace negotiations was scheduled to have begun more than five months ago, according to the agreement signed between the United States and the Taliban in Doha on Feb. 29.

However, it has been delayed by disagreements over a prisoner exchange deal between the Afghan government and the rebels, which was set as a precondition for the talks to commence.

Earlier this month, the Afghan authorities freed 80 of the 400 prisoners remaining under its custody as part of the prisoner swap deal in which 5,000 Taliban fighters would be released in exchange for 1,000 government personnel. The Taliban had already completed its part of the swap on Jul.30.

Meanwhile, the insurgents have reiterated they will not start the intra-Afghan talks until all the 5,000 prisoners they have demanded are released.

However, it remains unclear when the remaining prisoners will be freed. EFE=EPA


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