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Four nations meet to seek roadmap to Afghan peace

Senior officials from Afghanistan, the United States, China and Pakistan started consultations here on Monday to push forward the peace process in Afghanistan.

The quadrilateral process was launched during a meeting of the four countries on the sidelines of the Heart of Asia Conference in Islamabad last month.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif were present at that meeting, which was also attended by senior officials of China and the United States.

Pakistan's adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, told the opening session that the four-nation group will coordinate the peace process between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

Aziz said no preconditions should be attached to the peace talks and all stakeholders should move forward in the spirit of a shared responsibility.

He termed the process as of great significance to define the overall direction, goals and create a conducive atmosphere for the direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Deputy Foreign Minister of Afghanistan Hekmat Khalil Karzai was representing a five-member delegation in the first meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Committee. Chinese special envoy for Afghanistan Deng Xijun, U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Olsan and Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry led their delegations.

Diplomatic sources said the quadrilateral process was aimed at exploring options to revive the stalled dialogue between Kabul and the Taliban.

The first Afghan peace talks were held at the Pakistani town of Murree near Islamabad in early July but the process faced a deadlock after the death of former Taliban leader Mullah Omar was confirmed. China and the United States attended the talks as observers.

Afghanistan pinned high hopes on the process as the stakeholders had agreed on action against the irreconcilable Taliban.

"We have agreed on using legitimate force against the groups who oppose peace. Practical measures and specific mechanism are part of the four-nation negotiations," President Ghani said in Kabul last month.

The second peace talks will be held in Kabul, the Afghan president said.

The process is a significant window of opportunity for all stakeholders to work jointly to encourage the Taliban to come to the negotiation table. Kabul hoped the it could help to stop the Taliban from launching their annual "Spring Offensive" that marks the beginning of fighting season in Afghanistan.

The Taliban leaders have not yet officially responded to the quadrilateral approach. However, senior Taliban leaders in reported remarks have insisted they were not "opposed to the political process" but had not yet decided to talk to the Afghan government.

[Source: Xinhua, Islamabad, 11Jan16]

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small logoThis document has been published on 12Jan16 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.