Islamabad: Against the backdrop of tension between Islamabad and Kabul over cross-border raids and shelling, top Pakistani and US officials have discussed ways to take forward the Afghan reconciliation process ahead of the drawdown of foreign forces.
A high-level US delegation led by Acting US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan David Pearce met Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani on Sunday to discuss the troubled Afghan peace process.
The US officials talked with their Pakistan interlocutors about ways in which the two countries "can continue to work together to advance the Afghan-led reconciliation process, and contribute to a secure, stable and prosperous future for the region", said a statement issued on Monday by the US Embassy.
A brief statement issued by the Pakistan Army's media wing said the two sides discussed "matters of mutual interest with particular focus on the Afghanistan reconciliation process", but gave no other details.
The US delegation included Special Assistant to the President and Coordinator for Afghanistan and Pakistan Lt Gen (retired) Douglas Lute and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Lavoy.
During the visit, Pearce reiterated US support to Pakistan's democratic process, saying: "The US looks forward to timely, transparent, free and fair elections in Pakistan on May 11. We are committed to continuing to build our bilateral partnership with the government and the leadership elected by the voters."
The two sides had reiterated their commitment to take the Afghan reconciliation process forward "through meaningful dialogue and by addressing concerns of all major stakeholders, including the Taliban", the Dawn newspaper quoted its sources as saying.
The two sides said they "trusted each other and were deeply concerned about what they called unpredictable nature of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who in the past had harmed peace talks by unnecessarily hitting out either at the US or Pakistan", the report said.
An unnamed Pakistani military official told the Dawn that "every effort would be made to take the Taliban leadership on board because without their active involvement the peace talks could not succeed".
"From day one, we have been telling the Americans that if at all they are interested in some sort of reconciliation process within Afghanistan, it's simply out of question without taking the Taliban on board. Now they have not only accepted this viewpoint but also endorsed Pakistan’s efforts in this regard," the military official claimed.
In recent weeks, Pakistan and Afghanistan have traded charges about cross-border raids by militants and shelling by Pakistani security forces of border areas in Afghan provinces.


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