A Taliban delegation headed by deputy leader Mullah Baradar has met with Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Wednesday to discuss the Afghan peace process.
Mullah Baradar will be visiting Pakistan for two days and during the visit, “the delegation will meet with the Foreign Minister and call on the Prime Minister,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday in a statement.
“The visit of Taliban Political Commission delegation is part of Pakistan’s policy to reach out to key Afghan parties in the Afghan peace process with a view to facilitating the Intra-Afghan Negotiations, that commenced in Doha on 12 September 2020,” it said.
“Pakistan will continue to support an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement for durable peace, stability and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region,” it added.
Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry in a statement on Wednesday said that the Taliban delegation was a planned, official visit and the Afghan government had been made aware of the trip and considered it part of Pakistani efforts to aid the Afghan peace process.
The ministry said this current meeting was related to the recent visit of Imran Khan, Pakistani prime minister, to Afghanistan, the statement said.
“The Afghan government welcomes such as efforts,” it added.
Next round of peace talks
Meanwhile, the Taliban has expressed opposition to President Ashraf Ghani's call to hold the next round of peace negotiations in Afghanistan, saying the request signals fear on the republic's side.
Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem told TOLOnews that "spoilers of the peace process," by making such a demand, see their power and personal interest in danger.
Naeem said that the negotiators of both sides will resume their meetings in Doha on January 5.
But the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that holding the next round of negotiations in Afghanistan will be a key to progress in the peace process.
The peace negotiations witnessed a breakthrough earlier this month after the two sides agreed on procedural rules for the talks.
The working groups of both teams held three meetings to discuss the agenda of the talks last week. Their meetings were expected to be held this week but were delayed as the two sides were consulting internally on the demands to be included in the agenda of the talks.