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Senior US Diplomat in Pakistan to Discuss Afghanistan

20 Jan 2020 Tolo News

The principal deputy assistant secretary, Alice Wells, has begun a four-day official visit to Pakistan Sunday and will speak about Afghanistan with Pakistani officials, VOA reported.

The report said that Wells' trip comes amid warming bilateral relations following meetings last year between President Donald Trump and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Wells is scheduled to discuss with senior government officials in Islamabad issues related to bilateral and regional concerns. She will also hold meetings with civil society representatives during her stay in the country, a State Department spokesperson told VOA in an email.

"We have made clear that fulfilling that potential requires progress on our joint efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan and on Pakistan taking sustained and irreversible action against the militant groups and terrorist groups that destabilize the region,” Wells said.

On Friday, Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, tweeted: "Enjoyed meeting with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi today,” adding: “We discussed countering Iranian aggression, the Afghan peace process, trade ties, and regional stability.”

Pompeo met Qureshi in Washington on Friday, and discussed Afghanistan and bilateral ties, according to a statement released by the US Department of State.

The statement said the two sides talked about a range of issues including Iran, US-Pakistan cooperation on the Afghan peace process and building bilateral economic ties.

The Taliban is aiming to reach a withdrawal agreement with the US by the end of January and is prepared to “scale down” military operations ahead of signing the deal, the Taliban's chief spokesman in Doha, Suhail Shaheen, told Pakistan’s daily newspaper Dawn on January 18.

“We have agreed to scale down military operations in days leading up to the signing of the peace agreement with the United States,” Shaheen told Dawn.

“The purpose (of scaling down) is to provide safe environment to foreign forces to withdraw from Afghanistan,” he added.

“There is no agreement on ceasefire,” Shaheen insisted. “It’s a reduction in our military operations,” he said. “It is our prerogative to see how, when and where to scale down our military operations and it’s not going to be restricted to foreign forces only. The scaling down will be blanket and shall include all forces including state forces.”

In the meantime, the Taliban’s chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar said less than two weeks ago that the war will come to an end in Afghanistan once the US forces withdraw from the country.

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