Afghanistan,Pakistan and the US on Friday agreed to explore ways to arrange safe passage for Taliban militants wanting to join the Afghan reconciliation process as the three countries resumed contacts to facilitate the endgame in Afghanistan.
Senior officials of the three countries decided to form two new sub-groups to push the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
One sub-group,comprising officials from permanent missions at the United Nations,will coordinate activities at the world body while the second will examine the issue of safe passage for Afghan Taliban militants who give up violence.
Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin,who led the Afghan team at the meeting of the Core Group of the three countries,said Kabul expected Islamabad to facilitate contacts with the Taliban. Safe passage for militants taking part in talks will have a cascading effect and encourage other rebels to join the peace process,he said.
We need to be able to find those who are willing to talk wherever they are… We need to provide safe passage and an environment where they feel safe and confident that they can engage in peace talks, said Ludin.
The American team at the talks was led by Special Representative Marc Grossman while Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jillani headed the Pakistani side.
The Core Group of the three countries met in Islamabad for the first time since September last year as part of efforts to revive stalled talks with the Taliban and to resume cooperation for the endgame in Afghanistan.
We really welcome this initiative of the safe passage,which will mean our experts can meet and take this process further, Ludin said.
Foreign Secretary Jillani said the formation of the sub-group to examine safe passage was an important development.
Cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan stalled after the assassination last year of Afghan High Peace Council chief Burhanuddin Rabbani,which officials in Kabul had blamed on Pakistani elements. Relations between Islamabad and Washington hit a low after a cross-border NATO air strike killed 24 Pakistani soldiers last year.
Grossman,Ludin and Jillani expressed the hope that the three countries would continue close cooperation in the Afghan peace process.
Jillani said Pakistan has reiterated its support for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process.