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Pakistan to host peace talks between Afghan govt and Taliban

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ISLAMABAD: The Quad¬ri¬lateral Coordination Group (QCG) on Afghan peace and reconciliation announced on Monday that Pakistan will host peace talks between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban.

A joint communiqué issued by the QCG after a meeting held in Kabul stated that all Taliban and other groups will be invited to participate in the talks through their authorised representatives.

The talks are expected to be held in the first week of March.

Referring to an earlier joint statement issued on February 06, 2016 and building on the outcome of the previous meetings of the QCG, the group reviewed progress in the implementation of the roadmap for the Afghan-led, Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process.

“Towards this end and also in line with the desire and support of the QCG member countries for lasting peace in Afghanistan, the QCG endorsed and expressed strong support for the upcoming direct talks between the Government of Afghanistan and authorized representatives of the Taliban and other groups,” said the statement.

The QCG also welcomed the decision by Afghanistan and Pakistan to constitute a bilateral joint working group to work with the honourable Ulema (clergy) of Afghanistan and Pakistan for their support to the Afghan led peace and reconciliation process, including through Fatwas (religious decrees) against the ongoing senseless violence.

The fourth meeting of the QCG was led by Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Chinese Ambassador Yao Jing and U.S. Charge d’Affaires, David Lindwall.

The communique added that the next QCG meeting will take place in Islamabad immediately after the first round of direct peace talks.

The roadmap which is intended to guide the efforts of starting a peace dialogue between the Afghan government and militants was China’s idea.

Afghanistan had proposed the draft of the roadmap at the first QCG meeting held in Islamabad last year.

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