Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi (forth right) holds talk with Taliban delegation in Islamabad. AFP
Peace talks in Afghanistan must resume as soon as possible, Pakistan and the Taliban militant group urged on Thursday, after President Donald Trump broke off negotiations last month seeking to end the United States' longest war.
Trump halted talks with the group, aimed at striking a deal for US and other foreign troops to withdraw in exchange for Taliban security guarantees, after it carried out a bomb attack in Kabul that killed 12 people, including a US soldier.
“Both sides agreed on the need for the earliest resumption of the peace process,” Pakistan's foreign office said in a statement on Thursday after Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi met a Taliban delegation that is visiting Islamabad.
The US embassy in the Pakistani capital did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The United States has long considered Pakistan's cooperation crucial to efforts to end the war in Afghanistan.
“Both sides agreed on the need for the earliest resumption of the peace process.”
The meeting came as Zalmay Khalilzad, the top US envoy involved in the peace talks, also visited Islamabad for talks with the government, although it was not clear if he would have any contact with the militant Taliban.
The latest development follows a meeting last week between Trump and Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
A pause in the bloodshed would help smooth the way to an agreement, Pakistan's foreign minister said.
"It was emphasised that reduction of violence by all parties to the conflict was necessary," the ministry said, adding that such a step would help to speed resumption of the peace effort.
The Taliban met US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in the Pakistan capital for the first time since President Donald Trump declared a seemingly imminent peace deal to end Afghanistan's 18-year war 'dead' a month ago, a Taliban official said early on Saturday.
The Taliban delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, one of the group's founders, was due to discuss "important issues" with Pakistani officials in the capital, Islamabad, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said on Twitter.
Ghani said the message of the five-day gathering was clear: “Afghans want peace” and offered a ceasefire, though he stressed it would not be unilateral. In the statement on Friday, the Taliban rejected a ceasefire, saying attacks will continue during Ramadan but said “fighters are very careful of civilians during any operation.”
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