ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar will visit Afghanistan on February 1 to discuss reconciliation efforts there, a Pakistani newspaper reported on Sunday.
Khar was asked earlier this month by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to travel to Kabul ahead of a trilateral summit on the future of Afghanistan.
The News reported that Khar would lead a small delegation on a one day trip to Kabul on February 1. No further details were given and officials were not immediately available for comment.
The United States sees Pakistan as critical to its efforts to wind down the war in neighbouring Afghanistan, where US-led Nato forces are battling a stubborn Taliban insurgency.
Khar told Reuters on January 19 that Pakistan’s ties with the United States remain on hold after a Nato cross-border air attack and that Washington should not push Islamabad to go after militant groups or bring them to the Afghan peace process.
Kabul says Pakistan FM to visit for talks on Taliban
Pakistan and Afghanistan will open a new phase of cooperation over the Taliban insurgency with the visit of Islamabad’s foreign minister this week, an official said Sunday.
Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar will visit Kabul on Wednesday, Afghan foreign ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai told a news conference.
“This visit will mark a new cooperation relations phase between the two countries,” he said, adding that Khar would hold talks with Afghan Foreign Minister Zulmai Rasoul and President Hamid Karzai.
“Both sides will discuss the fight against terrorism and Pakistan’s essential support to the peace process in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan plays a key role in Afghan peace process and Afghanistan need a sincere effort of our neighbouring country toward peace negotiations,” Mosazai said.
Khar’s visit comes after Pakistan made overtures to Afghanistan to resume talks over the Taliban which broke down following the assassination of Kabul’s chief peace envoy, Burhanuddin Rabbani, in September, officials said.
Karzai accused Pakistan of responsibility for the murder and last month accused Pakistan of sabotaging all negotiations with the Taliban.
The Taliban, ousted from power by a US-led invasion in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, announced earlier this month that they planned to set up a political office in Qatar ahead of possible talks with the United States.
Karzai’s government gave its blessing to the move, but Kabul, wary of being sidelined in talks between the insurgents and Washington, has insisted on a central role in any negotiations.