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Islamabad:

Pakistan arranged a peace talk between the US and the Taliban officials in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to end the decades long war in Afghanistan.

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According to the voice of America, Zalmay Khalilzad, the special representative for Afghan reconciliation, will lead the US team for the talks in Abu Dhabi. Khalilzad is also visiting regional countries to gather support for Afghan peace talks. While holding office in September, the Afghan-born US special envoy had held two meetings with the officials of Taliban in Qatar. Earlier, US president Donald Trump wrote to the prime minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, seeking his cooperation in bringing the Taliban to the table for peace negotiations. The move came after the USSR had held talks with Afghan officials along with India, last month. Keeping this in mind, Pakistan facilitated the dialogue between the US and the Afghan officials at UAE on December 17, 2018.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid had also confirmed participation for the meeting with American officials. Representatives of the host country, Pakistan, UAE and Saudi Arabia will also be in attendance. The Taliban officials had earlier said that the presence of international forces in Afghanistan was the main obstacle to establishing peace in the country and have maintained that issues such as mutual recognition with the Kabul government, constitutional changes and women’s rights could be negotiated.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal has expressed support for the latest round of talks between the Afghan Taliban and other stakeholders. On Saturday, Washington welcomed the news of Pakistan supporting the peace process between the US and Taliban.

It was 17 years back that the United States had invaded Afghanistan. According to an American University study released recently, nearly 150,000 people, including Afghan civilians, security forces, insurgents and more than 2,400 American soldiers were killed during this period. The longest war in US history also cost Washington nearly one trillion dollars while the Taliban continued to expand its insurgent activities.

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