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Afghan, Pakistani, US diplomats begin peace talks

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, April 27, IRNA -- Top Afghan, Pakistani and U.S. diplomats Friday opened talks in Islamabad to review peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan, officials and diplomats said.

Special U.S. Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman and Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister, Jawed Luddin are leading their delegations in the talks.

The Pakistan side is headed by the Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, a Foreign Ministry statement said.

The 6th meeting of the Core Group of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States would review various issues of common interest including the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process, economic development, narcotics, return of Afghan refugees and regional connectivity, the Foreign Ministry says.

Afghan ambassador in Islamabad, Omar Daudzai, told IRNA that the meeting will also discuss the 'obstacles' in the Afghan peace and reconciliation process. The diplomats will review the progress in the Afghan peace process achieved so far.

The trilateral forum was revived last month when senior diplomats from the three countries met in Dushanbe, Tajikistan after nearly a four-month deadlock over the assassination of Afghan peace envoy Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani in September.

'The meeting in Islamabad is a follow-up on last month's meeting in Dushanbe,' Daudzai said.

He added that the Afghan side will call upon Pakistan to 'step up' the investigation into the killing of Professor Rabbani in September last year.

Kabul suspended high-level contacts with Islamabad after Burhanuddin's assassination, claiming that the murder was planned with the help of 'elements' in Pakistan and carried out by a suspected Afghan Taliban bomber from Quetta. Islamabad swiftly dismissed the charges and assured cooperation in a joint probe.

The trilateral meeting will be held ahead of the NATO summit in Chicago on May 20-21 to discuss matters relating to the planned withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

Pakistan has been invited to the summit but it has not yet decided to participate, the Foreign Ministry's spokesman said at a press briefing last week.

Afghan sources say that Pakistan and Afghanistan will also revive the joint peace and reconciliation process following the nomination of the new peace envoy, Salahuddin Rabbani, son of the slain Rabbani.

Salahuddin was appointed head of the High Peace Council this month and is now all set for the revival of joint peace efforts, sources said.

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 80098819

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