BFF-39 Trump letter to Imran Khan seeks Pakistan’s help in Afghanistan

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BFF-39

PAKISTAN-US-AFGHAN-UNREST

Trump letter to Imran Khan seeks Pakistan’s help in Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD, Dec 3, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Pakistan’s foreign ministry said Monday
that US President Donald Trump has written a letter to prime minister Imran
Khan seeking Islamabad’s support in securing a “negotiated settlement” to the
war in Afghanistan.

The development comes as Washington steps up efforts to hold peace talks
with the resurgent Taliban, more than 17 years after the invasion of
Afghanistan.

In the letter, Trump said a settlement is “his most important regional
priority”, the Pakistani foreign ministry stated.

“In this regard, he has sought Pakistan’s support and facilitation”, it
continued.

US officials accuse Islamabad of ignoring or even collaborating with groups
such as the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network, which attack Afghanistan
from safe havens along the border between the two countries.

The White House believes that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence
agency and other military bodies have long helped fund and arm the Taliban
both for ideological reasons and to counter rising Indian influence in
Afghanistan.

It believes that a Pakistani crackdown on the militants could be pivotal in
deciding the outcome of the war.

Pakistan has long denied the claims and says it has paid the price for its
alliance with the US in the so-called “war on terror”, with thousands of its
citizens killed in its long struggle with militancy.

“Trump acknowledged that the war had cost both USA and Pakistan,” the
foreign ministry statement continued.

Islamabad would help facilitate any talks “in good faith”, the ministry
added.

The troubled relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan hit yet another
bump last month after Trump declared he had cancelled assistance worth
hundreds of millions of dollars because Islamabad does not do “a damn thing”
for the US.

Khan hit back at the criticism on Twitter, calling on the US president to
name an ally that has sacrificed more against militancy.

Trump’s letter came as the US announced Zalmay Khalilzad will make another
visit starting this week as special envoy to the region.

Khalilzad will meet officials in Pakistan and Afghanistan, as well as
Russia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Belgium and the United Arab Emirates, as
part of the push for talks.

He recently expressed hopes that a peace deal to end the war could be
struck before the Afghan presidential election, scheduled for April.

At an international conference on Afghanistan in Geneva last Monday,
Afghan president Ashraf Ghani said a 12-person Afghan negotiating team has
been prepared for peace talks.

But the Taliban, who have previously insisted they will only speak with US
officials, rejected Ghani’s overtures, calling the government in Kabul
“impotent” and a “waste of time”.

BSS/AFP/RY/1938 hrs