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Quadrilateral meet to finalise roadmap for Afghan talks

174 Days ago

Islamabad: Senior Afghan, Chinese, Pakistani and US officials are scheduled to meet in Islamabad on Saturday to "finalise" a roadmap that will enable stakeholders to play their role and bring the Taliban to the negotiation table.

Afghanistan tabled the roadmap in the first quadrilateral meeting in Islamabad in early January that will determine "parameters of shared responsibilities" of all those involved in the process, a Pakistani official privy to the process said on Friday.

"The second meeting in Kabul on January 18 completed deliberations on almost half of the plan and the focus of the Islamabad meeting would be to complete the discussions and come up with a good and realistic document," he said.

Afghanistan's Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai would lead his country's delegation at the meeting. Diplomatic sources said Karzai will arrive in Islamabad Saturday morning.

Chinese special envoy for Afghanistan Deng Xijun, the US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olsan and Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry will lead their sides.

The quadrilateral process was launched in December during a meeting on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Conference held in Islamabad. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistan Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif were present at that meeting which was also attended by senior officials of China and the United States.

The four-nation mechanism is very important because of the participation of the United States and China - both are key stakeholders in peace and stability in Afghanistan.

A consensus has emerged during the previous meetings that there should be no preconditions attached to the possible peace talks. However, the participants want some confidence-building measures to encourage the Taliban come to the negotiations table.

The Taliban political negotiators listed some steps ahead of the talks at a unofficial meeting in Qatar last month that include opening of their political office in Doha, removal of travel ban on their leaders and release of prisoners.

The Taliban office in Qatar was closed days after its opening in 2013 after then President Hamid Karzai raised objections at the use of the white flag and the plaque of "Islamic Emirate." The Taliban had used both the signs during their rule 1996-2001. (IANS)

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