Pakistan to host four-nation meeting on ending Afghan war

AP

Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States will hold talks in Islamabad on Monday aimed at reviving the Afghan peace process.

Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmad Shekib Mostaghni said Saturday that the representatives will discuss a “roadmap for peace talks.” Kabul’s delegation to the one-day meeting is to be led by Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai, he said.

The talks were agreed upon during a visit to Kabul last month by Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif.

Monday’s talks do not include the Taliban, who have been battling the U.S.-backed government for nearly 15 years and have recently stepped up their attacks.

Talks with the Taliban have been on hold since July, when they collapsed after just one meeting following Afghanistan’s announcement that longtime Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar had been dead for more than two years. The Taliban called off its participation and a second meeting was cancelled.

A subsequent power struggle within the Taliban has raised questions about who would represent the insurgents if and when the talks with Kabul are revived.

Pakistan is believed to have influence over the Taliban, but relations with Kabul have been tense in recent months. The two countries have long accused each other of backing the Taliban and other insurgents operating along their porous border.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani took part in a regional conference last month in Islamabad, which called for the resumption of the Afghan-Taliban peace negotiations. Ghani was given a warm welcome at the meeting, which was also attended by U.S. and Chinese representatives.

Analysts have cautioned that despite the rapprochement between Kabul and Islamabad, any substantive peace talks are still months off.