ISLAMABAD: Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States said they would explore ways to arrange safe passage for Afghan Taliban militants who wish to engage in peace talks, officials from the three countries said on Friday.
While not yet making an iron-clad guarantee, officials told a news conference in Islamabad they would form a group of experts to consider the proposal.
The three countries resumed talks to review peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan and expressed the hope to continue the peace process with close cooperation to ensure peace and security in the region.
Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman and Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Luddin led their delegations in the talks while Pakistani side was headed by the Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani and the three countries agreed to work collectively on the basis of mutual respect and interest.
During this sixth meeting of the core group of Pakistan, Afghanistan and US, the allies today agreed to establish two sub groups to accelerate the process of Afghan reconciliation.
During the meeting, they agreed to establish a sub group at the United Nations to coordinate activities in New York and it will comprise permanent representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States at the United Nations.
The meeting also agreed to establish a sub group on safe passage for those Taliban and other Afghan groups renouncing violence.
Recognizing that Afghanistan and the region is passing through a defining moment, the core group meeting held threadbare discussion on the Afghanistan reconciliation process and extended full support to it. The three countries also expressed support for other regional and international processes for peace in Afghanistan.
Later briefing newsmen about the outcome of the core group meeting, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbass Jilani along with US Special Envoy on Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman and Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Luddin, said that Pakistan has reiterated support to Afghan led and Afghan owned peace process.
He said, "Peace and stability in Afghanistan is the core national objective of Pakistan" and assured that Pakistan will facilitate any process that could bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.
US Envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman reaffirmed support for Afghan peace process and said his country is looking for better outcome of this process.
Recognizing Pakistan's role in peace and stability of Afghanistan, Marc Grossman said the immediate neigbours of Kabul need to play an extremely important role for peace and prosperity of Afghanistan.
Responding to a question, the US envoy rejected the notion that the three countries share distrust on the reconciliation process. He said on Friday's meeting of the core group reflects that the three countries have the understanding on important issues including the reconciliation process. He said his country will only open the doors of dialogue for those Taliban with whom the Afghan government gives permission to.
In his remarks, Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Luddin said peace is the foremost priority for Afghanistan and to make the this process successful there are important steps and challenges being faced by all the three countries. He however expressed the confidence that the three countries will work in unison to achieve the desired objectives.
He said the three countries have the common enemy and they need to work together to confront the menace of terrorism and extremism. He said there is a dire need to make the political process successful so that those renouncing violence could be brought into the mainstream.
The Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister said, "We need to provide a safe passage to those shunning violence and in this context a sub group is being established to facilitate their return to normal life."
He said Afghanistan desires to engage in direct talks with the Taliban and other groups to achieve the objectives of reconciliation. He, in this regard, appreciated the support of Pakistan for an intra Afghan peace process.
Expressing his gratitude to Pakistan for hosting millions of Afghan refugees, the Afghan deputy foreign minister said Kabul shares the vision of Islamabad that now these refugees should return to their home with honor and dignity.
About the economic cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan, he said energy and infrastructure projects are imperative to change the destiny of the region. He said Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India [TAPI] pipeline project is an important project and expressed the confidence that its realization will transform the entire region.
The core group meeting also discussed other issues including better border management and illicit drug trafficking. The three sides also exchanged views on several bilateral and regional economic projects.
The trilateral forum was revived last month when senior diplomats from the three countries met in Dushanbe, Tajikistan after nearly a four-month deadlock after the assassination of Afghan peace envoy Professor Burhanuddin Rabbani in September. (APP)