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Talking Afghan Peace: Trump Meets Khan, Ghani at Davos

22 Jan 2020 Tolo News

US President Donald Trump and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum at Davos on Tuesday, and Trump met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Wednesday, the Palace reported.

Khan and Trump discussed bilateral relations between the two countries including peace in Afghanistan, Reuters said.
According to reports, both leaders agreed to continue efforts towards a lasting political settlement to end the ongoing war in Afghanistan.
According to Reuters, Khan said that while relations with India were important, the most pressing concern for the discussion was Afghanistan.
“The main issue, of course, is Afghanistan because it concerns the US and Pakistan,” Khan said. “Both of us are interested in peace there and an orderly transition in Afghanistan with talks with the Taliban and the government.” Reuters reported.
US President Donald Trump told reporters that America and Pakistan are closer than ever before.
“We're getting along very well. I would say we've never been closer with Pakistan than we are right now," Trump told reporters.

On Wednesday, the Presidential Palace reported that President Ashraf Ghani had met with Trump at Davos:

"Both leaders talked about the situation in Afghanistan, peace and security, and the region-- taking stock of the issues they discussed at their last meeting in Bagram, Afghanistan," Ghani's spokesman tweeted.

But as a potential US-Taliban deal progresses in Doha, the Presidential Palace and some Ghani supporters continue to insist on a ceasefire to accompany intra-Afghan talks, rather than just a reduction in violence.

And on Wednesday, Ghani's running mate Amrullah Saleh, echoing earlier statements by others including National Security Adviser Mohib, said that the Taliban cannot be trusted to uphold any pledges against terrorism that might be part of a US-Taliban deal:

Saleh tweeted that the Taliban assertion that they will "oppose" foreign terrorists using Afghanistan soil will prove to be a "writing on ice," and the Taliban, like other terrorist groups in the region and beyond, come from the same "ideological and political gene pool." Legitimization of religious terror will prove "costly."

But international and regional momentum continues to build for a US-Taliban deal followed by intra- Afghan talks.

Germany's envoy to Afghanistan, Markus Potzel, has communicated Germany's willingness to aid in intra-Afghan talks.

Earlier this week the US State Department's Alice Wells arrived in Pakistan on a four-day tour where she will speak about Afghanistan with Pakistani officials.
Wells' trip comes amid warming bilateral relations following meetings last year and on Tuesday's between President Trump and Prime Minister 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.

The Taliban have also communicated progress with talks:
On Tuesday, a Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told Arab News in a phone conversation that Taliban representatives are holding talks with US negotiators in Qatar to create a “safe atmosphere” for the signing of a peace agreement.
“There had been no discussion on cease-fire since the beginning, but the US proposed reduction in violence and our stance is to provide a safe atmosphere during the days of the agreement,” Shaheed said as quoted by Arab News.
Shaheen, according to Arab News, said that a comprehensive and complete cease-fire would be declared after the peace agreement is signed with the US, ” We will also provide a safe passage to the US and other foreign forces following the deal,” he said.
Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the reconciled leader of Hizb-e-Islami this week called on the Taliban to engage in intra-Afghan talks.
“Let’s get together and find out a solution to the conflict through intra-Afghan talks,” said Hekmatyar.
The former US envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Marc Grossman, has said that the Taliban’s decision to reduce violence for some days is potentially a positive move towards the Afghan peace process.
“The fact that the Taliban have decided to at least make public…at least willing to talk about some kind of reduction in violence--- maybe a to ten days, that’s potentially a positive thing,” Grossman said in an interview with VOA.

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