Pakistan to host meeting on reviving Afghan talks

Source: Published in Foreign Affairs on Tuesday, May 17, 2016

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will on Wednesday host a new round of four-nation Afghan peace talks aimed at reviving long-stalled negotiations with the Taliban, a Foreign Office official said.

The group comprising Afghanistan, the United States, China and Pakistan has been attempting since January to restart the nascent peace process.

But the lack of progress has left many frustrated, as the Taliban ramp up their insurgency launched in late 2001 after they were toppled from power by a US-led invasion.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office, Mohammed Nafees Zakaria, however tweeted that a fifth round of talks between the four countries would take place in Islamabad on Wednesday, without giving details.

A joint statement issued after the fourth round in late February said direct peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban were “expected to take place” by early March.

But the Taliban announc­ed in April the start of their “spring offensive’’ even as the government in Kabul tried to bring the insurgents back to the negotiating table to end the conflict.

The Taliban have made the departure of all foreign forces a precondition to the resumption of direct peace talks with Kabul which began last summer in Pakistan but ended abruptly after it was revealed that their leader Mullah Omar had been dead for two years.