US assures Pak of key role in reconciliation in Afghanistan
REZAUL H LASKAR/PTI
Islamabad, Aug 3: The US today assured Pakistan of a key role in efforts to find a political solution to the conflict in Afghanistan, where the reconciliation process has been affected due to strain in bilateral ties between Islamabad and Washington.
The US "does not contemplate any reconciliation process in Afghanistan without Pakistan", Special Representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman told Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani during a meeting.
Grossman also said that the US "would not commit the same mistake of abandoning Pakistan".
Gilani "emphasised that the US, Afghanistan and Pakistan should be on the same page to deny any space to militants to capitalise on", according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister's media office.
He reiterated the joint resolve of Pakistan and Afghanistan's leadership to root out militancy and terrorism as both countries had suffered in terms of loss of lives and property, instability and economic problems.
The remarks by Grossman and Gilani came against the backdrop of rising tensions between Pakistan and the US in the wake of the covert American raid that killed Osama bin Laden in the garrison city of Abbottabad on May 2.
The reconciliation process in Afghanistan has been affected due to bilateral tensions between Islamabad and Washington.
Grossman met Gilani after participating in trilateral talks between Afghanistan, Pakistan and the US on the Afghan reconciliation process.
At the conclusion of the talks yesterday, Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Jawid Ludin called for speeding up the trilateral process as, saying the "situation in Afghanistan requires fruits of cooperation".
Ludin's comments reflected Kabul's frustration at the slow pace of the reconciliation process, apparently due to the tensions between Pakistan and the US.
Gilani told Grossman it was "extremely important" for Pakistan to have a "sovereign, stable and prosperous Afghanistan" as this was in the best interests of the region.
He also said was looking forward to positive outcomes at forthcoming conferences on Afghanistan to be held in Istanbul and Bonn.
The premier "underlined the apprehensions that, as in the past, Pakistan may once again suffer the negative fallout of the Afghanistan problem".
Grossman responded to Gilani's concerns by saying that the US "would not commit the same mistake of abandoning Pakistan".
Gilani said Pakistan was working to ensure Afghanistan's connectivity in the region through a bilateral transit trade agreement which would extend to Central Asian republics.
In an apparent reference to the tensions between Islamabad and Washington, Gilani said US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's upcoming visit to Pakistan would be an opportunity to exchange views on multiple subjects.
"Positive messaging, both from Washington and Islamabad, is important to deny space to the militants," he said.
The repatriation of 3.5 million Afghan refugees from Pakistan should be an "important component of the reconciliation process", Gilani said.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 3 Aug 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 3 Aug 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 4 Aug 2011 00:00:00 IST
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