Kabul, Islamabad to hold peace talks

Kabul, Islamabad to hold peace talks

BRUSSELS - Reuters
Kabul, Islamabad to hold peace talks

Afghan president will talk with US Secretary of State Kerry and Pakistani officials amid increasing violonce. REUTERS photo

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has offered to host a meeting between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and senior Pakistani officials in Brussels tomorrow, a senior U.S. State Department official said yesterday, with the aim of calming tension over border disputes and a flagging peace process.

“The meeting is part of an ongoing trilateral dialogue that has been under way throughout this administration,” the official said. The meeting would include Karzai and Afghan Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi as well as Pakistan’s Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani and Foreign Secretary Jalil Jilani. The meeting is part of a series of on-off discussions between Afghanistan and Pakistan at the behest of the United States, the official said.

Afghanistan has grown increasingly frustrated with Pakistan over efforts to pursue a peace process involving the Taliban, suggesting that Islamabad is intent on keep Afghanistan unstable until after foreign combat forces have left at the end of 2014.

Kerry said the meeting would discuss the handover of security responsibility to Afghan forces this year, a move intended to allow for the end of NATO-led combat operations.

“This is the year of transition. This is the critical year in Afghanistan,” he told U.S. diplomats in Brussels. “We are going to have a trilateral and try to talk about how we can advance this process in the simplest, most cooperative and most cogent way, so that we wind up with both Pakistan’s and Afghanistan’s interests being satisfied, but, most importantly, with a stable and peaceful Afghanistan which is worth the expenditure and the treasure and effort of these last years.”