US diplomat visits Pakistan to discuss peace in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD — A top diplomat from President Donald Trump’s administration met with the Pakistani army chief to discuss how to ensure peace in Afghanistan following a recent cease-fire between the Taliban and Kabul, officials said Wednesday.

Alice Wells, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state, met with Pakistani army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Pakistan is believed to have played a role in ensuring the first truce in Afghanistan’s brutal 17-year war when Kabul and insurgents separately but peacefully celebrated the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr that follows the holy month of Ramadan. However, violence later resumed.

Wells’ visit, which took place Tuesday, came after Afghanistan stepped up efforts at finding a peaceful settlement, weeks after a U.S. drone missile killed Pakistani Taliban leader Mullah Fazlullah in Afghanistan

Bajwa recently visited Kabul, where he met with the Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and his counterpart to assure them of Islamabad’s full support in reviving peace process between Kabul and the Taliban.

Kabul’s envoy to Islamabad, Ambassador Omar Zakhilwal, also met with Bajwa at his office in the garrison city of Rawalpindi and discussed the security situation in Afghanistan and other “matters of mutual interest,” according to a military statement Wednesday.

Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have witnessed ups and downs in recent years, with both sides accusing each other of not taking action against Islamic militants linked to violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

But frequent meetings in recent weeks between high officials on both sides indicate significant improvement in relations between the two neighbours that are key allies of the United States in the war on terror.

The Associated Press

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