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Pakistani Foreign Minister Holds 'Productive' Talks With Afghan Leaders Over Peace Process

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi
Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said he had “productive meetings” with Afghan leaders in Kabul over the peace process with the Taliban.

“I’ve had productive meetings with the Afghan leadership this morning,” Qureshi wrote on Twitter on December 24. “The peace process is making positive headway.”

Qureshi met Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani and President Ashraf Ghani in the first stop of his three-day tour of four countries which also includes Iran, China, and Russia.

Rabbani said on Twitter that he discussed "issues of great importance" with Quersihi, who was making his second visit to Kabul this month, including developments in the peace process and improved bilateral relations based on "trust" and "enhanced cooperation."

Afghanistan has long had troubled relations with Pakistan, which Kabul and Washington accuse of harboring the Taliban leadership, a claim Islamabad has denied.

Pakistan, which has influence over the Taliban, has been taking part in the latest U.S. effort to revive the Afghan peace process ahead of next year's withdrawal of 7,000 American troops.

Earlier this month, Islamabad helped orchestrate talks in Abu Dhabi where representatives of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), Pakistan, and the United States met with Taliban representatives.

Afghanistan's national-security adviser Hamdullah Mohib was also in the U.A.E. and while he did not attend the talks, he met with U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who reportedly kept him informed of the discussions.

Islamabad welcomed President Donald Trump's decision to pull around half of the 14,000 American troops in Afghanistan.

Qureshi said on December 22 that the move was "a step forward" in the peace effort.

Qureshi’s visit to Kabul comes as Ghani nominated hard-line opponents of Pakistan to two top security posts.

Ghani announced on December 23 that Amrullah Saleh will be the next interior minister and Asadullah Khaled will be defense minister.

Both are former intelligence chiefs who have blamed neighboring Pakistan for the Taliban's resurgence in recent years and have even called for it to be declared a state sponsor of terror.

The appointments will have to be approved by parliament.

With reporting by Tolo News, AP, AFP, and RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan