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US special envoy discusses Afghanistan peace process in Pakistan

Richard Olson, US Special Rep on Pakistan - Afghanistan Affairs,

ISLAMABAD, 02 JULY (DNA) – The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Olson, met with the Foreign Secretary in Islamabad on Saturday “discussed the regional security situation and efforts for peace and stability in Afghanistan,” officials said.

Ambassador Olson is visiting Pakistan at a time when relations between Pakistan and the United States are tense over the drone strike that killed the Afghan Taliban chief, Mullah Akhtar Mansour and the U.S. blockade of the F-16 fighter planes.

The visit is also seen important at a time when relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan are also tense over recent border skirmishes that had caused casualties on both sides last month. Both sides also had the opportunity to discuss the efforts by the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) involving Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and the U.S. to push for the Afghan peace process.

Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry while talking to Ambassador Olson reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to as an effective forum to facilitate Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation process. “The Foreign Secretary underlined Pakistan’s focus on effective border management on Afghanistan-Pakistan border with a view to enhancing security and counter-terrorism efforts,” a Foreign Office statement said.

After the exchange of firing along the Torkham border Pakistan and Afghanistan created a high-level consultation mechanism to address border management and related security issues. Ambassador Olson “appreciated Pakistan’s efforts for long-term peace and stability in Afghanistan and stated that the US supported Pakistan’s efforts on border management,” the Foreign Ministry statement said.

He recognized that Pakistan’s role in hosting Afghan refugees for more than thirty five years should not be forgotten by the international community. In this regard, he underlined the need for creating pull factors for sustainable repatriation of Afghan refugees.

On bilateral relations Ambassador Richard Olson expressed appreciation for continued close cooperation between Pakistan and the United States on issues of mutual interest. He mentioned that Pakistan’s successes in counter-terrorism operations and stabilization of the economy were remarkable.

He also congratulated Pakistan for significant reduction in polio cases. Both sides agreed on continued constructive engagement between Pakistan and the United States in the areas of trade, investment, education, health and energy, the Foreign Ministry said. DNA

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