ISLAMABAD — Afghanistan’s president Thursday praised Pakistan’s efforts to advance the peace process in the region as he reached out to Islamabad for help in getting the Taliban to the negotiating table with the Kabul government, Pakistani officials said.
Ashraf Ghani’s remarks came at the start of a two-day visit to Pakistan, his first since the election last year of Prime Minister Imran Khan. The visit is also seen as an attempt by Ghani to reset the often-strained relationship between the two neighbors as the push for peace with the Taliban stalls.
Ghani arrived in Islamabad a day after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Kabul, where he said Washington was hopeful of a peace deal before Sept. 1. His visit also came after dozens of Afghan political leaders — but no Taliban representatives — attended a peace conference in Pakistan last week to pave the way for further Afghan-to-Afghan dialogue. Pakistan has facilitated ongoing peace talks between Washington and the Taliban as U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad tries to find a negotiated exit to the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan.
Ghani first met Thursday with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi before holding a one-on-one meeting with Khan. During his meeting with Qureshi, the Afghan president thanked Islamabad and “praised Pakistan’s role in the peace process,” according to a Foreign Ministry statement.
Later, he met with Khan in his office.