US takes Pakistan into confidence on talks with Taliban
By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir
ISLAMABAD: The United States has for the first time taken Pakistan into confidence about its clandestine dialogue with Taliban at unknown places at the different spots. The visiting US Deputy Special Representative for the Region Frank Ruggiero called on Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (MOS) Hina Rabbani Khar and apprised her of the details about the recent US contacts with Taliban here on Monday.
Diplomatic sources told The News that Hina Khar has briefed Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani subsequently about what was transpired in her meeting with the visiting US official who is supposed to be on an important mission of the region. She briefed the prime minister on other developments. It is understood that the US officials are getting more transparent about their interaction with the militants fighting in Afghanistan.
Washington has separated negotiating Taliban with al-Qaeda and it has succeeded in withdrawing some of the United Nations restrictions on Taliban leaders who are favourably disposed towards the peace talks. The MOS discussed Afghan process of peace and reconciliation with Frank Ruggiero.
Interestingly, US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates conceded a day earlier that the United States has engaged Taliban leaders, and it is in the process of talks with them. He termed the talks as on a ‘preliminary’ stage before making any headway.
The sources said that the US deputy special representative, who initiated the process as an important member of the US team under late Richard Holbrook, underscored the importance of the Core Group composed of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US in the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process of reconciliation and peace. The Core Group is going to have its important meeting in Kabul Tuesday (June 28) next. The US President, Barack Hussain Obama, Special Representative for region Marc Grossman, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir and Afghan deputy foreign minister Jawid Luddin will lead their respective delegations in the meeting as it would be third meeting of the group since its inception about 10 weeks ago.
Hina Rabbani Khar emphasized the importance of clarity and strategic coherence as well as transparency to facilitate the Afghan people and the Afghan government in the process for peace and reconciliation during her meeting with Frank Ruggeiro. It was agreed that the Pakistan-US relations were on track and that enhanced interaction between the two sides at several levels greatly facilitated better understanding of each other’s point of view. Minister of State Hina Khar expressed serious concern over recent militant incursions from across the border with Afghanistan into Pakistan that led to loss of innocent lives. She underscored the need for effective measures to prevent such incursions.
The diplomatic sources revealed that the United States has conveyed Pakistan that the two sides would be taking each other on board in more frank manner regarding its contacts with the Taliban leaders who are willing to find a negotiated settlement of the situation. Islamabad did not express its abhorrence about the US contact with the Taliban, but it urged Washington to be cautious about the intricacies Pakistan has been attaching with the proposition, the sources added.
Source: The News