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Pakistan sees Afghan peace process making headway

The visiting foreign minister of neighboring Pakistan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, said in Kabul on Monday that the Afghan peace process is making good headway.

At a meeting chaired by Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, the two sides discussed matters such as bilateral ties and especially the peace process in the war-ravaged country. According to the presidential palace, the two sides emphasized the importance of regional consensus to further the intra-Afghan talks and peace process.

“I had productive meetings with the Afghan leadership this morning. The peace process is making positive headway,” Qureshi tweeted. The Pakistan Embassy said in a statement that the solution to the conflict in Afghanistan lies in an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. “The International community’s recent consensus to adopt this as the guiding principle to resolve the 40-year Afghan conflict vindicates Pakistan’s long-held view.”

The assessment comes just after the U.S. hinted it could withdraw up to 7,000 American troops, around 50 percent of foreign troops, from Afghanistan amid a renewed push for talks with the Taliban. Top U.S. peace negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad met the Taliban representatives in Abu Dhabi last week, but the Taliban refused to meet Afghan officials in the same venue.

The development also comes in the wake of Kabul on Sunday appointing two former intelligence chiefs to head the country’s defense and interior ministries. Analyst see newly appointed Interior Minister Amrullah Saleh and Defense Minister Asadullah Khalid as seasoned and hawkish intelligence chiefs who claim Islamabad is manipulating both the Afghans and Washington, a charge Pakistan denies.

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