August 01, 2014

US praises Pakistan’s steps for Afghan peace talks

By Sadaf Shinwari - Tue Dec 04, 9:32 am

The United States has acknowledged Pakistan’s recent steps in support of Afghan reconciliation bid as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar travelled to Brussels to discuss the future of Afghanistan and wide-ranging Pak-US bilateral relationship.

A senior US official said that Secretary Clinton would get together with Foreign Minister Khar and Army Chief Gen Asfaq Parvez Kayani during a NATO summit in Brussels. Afghanistan would be one of the key subjects in discussions between Washington and Islamabad.

Nato and the US stressed Monday the importance of their ties with Pakistan in the fight against terrorism as the western military allies prepare the way for their 2014 withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) is committed to turning its relationship with Pakistan into a strategic partnership, said the alliance’s chief on Monday.

Nato also wants to reinvigorate its political dialogue with Pakistan and to move beyond 2014, Andre Fogh Rasmussen said in a meeting with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar at the Nato headquarters in Brussels.

Rasmussen commended Pakistan’s counter-insurgency operations and held out an assurance that Nato would remain a steadfast partner of Pakistan in their common fight against terrorism and extremism, according to a foreign ministry in Islamabad.

“Most urgently, we need to remain united to defeat terrorism,” NATO head Anders Fogh Rasmussen told visiting Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. “At NATO we understand well that Pakistan has paid a high price in these efforts. The alliance stands together with you to combat this scourge,” Rasmussen said in a statement.

“It is clear that the pursuit of peace and security in your region is in the interest of the broader international community. That includes peace in Afghanistan, where Pakistan has a particular role to play,” he said.

It is believed that Pakistan holds the key to any Afghan reconciliation bid with the Taliban due to the historic links of its premier spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), with the militants.

But Khar insisted that there was no “covert or overt support” to the Taliban‘s Haqqani network, which has operated out of Pakistan and is believed to have ties to ISI.

The militant group, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the US, is known for attacks inside Afghanistan against both Afghan and NATO forces, including the attacks upon the US embassy and NATO military headquarters in Kabul in September 2011.

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