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Sharif favours talks with Taliban on Afghan problem

02 December 2015

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Tuesday said a military solution to the Afghan problem was not possible, a day after he held an ice-breaking meeting with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Paris, where both were present for the UN Climate Change Conference.

The two leaders had an opportunity to discuss security issues with particular focus on peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, the Pakistani foreign ministry said.

The meeting amid tensions was seen important as it could help in the revival of the stalled talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

"Pakistan believes that the use of force alone may not achieve peace in Afghanistan. A robust and meaningful reconciliation process, if pursued seriously, has better prospects of establishing a lasting peace in Afghanistan," the prime minister said in a statement.

He said Pakistan was confident that the Afghan government and the Taliban would step forward with concrete ideas and proposals and engage in meaningful reconciliation talks, adding that Pakistan was prepared to extend its full support and assistance in promoting any such initiative.

"It was in this spirit that Pakistan engaged in sincere efforts to facilitate an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process," he said, recalling that the July 7 meeting in Murree was not only productive but also brightened the prospects for a reduction of violence in Afghanistan.

Sharif said he looked forward to the visit of President Ashraf Ghani to Islamabad, for jointly inaugurating the 9 December Heart of Asia meeting, and for discussions on the sidelines on how the two countries and the US and China can work together to pick up the thread of the reconciliation process from where it was left off in July.

He said Pakistan believes that the US and China, which were associated with Murree reconciliation process, are vital partners in this process.

"We would also welcome the support of other friendly powers in this endeavour. Pakistan would, therefore, welcome a quadrilateral initiative to restart the reconciliation process. To this end, the forthcoming meeting of Heart of Asia process, to be held in Islamabad on 9 December 2015, provides a welcome opportunity to evolve a common roadmap for result oriented reconciliation in Afghanistan," Sharif said.

The prime minister said it was important that both countries take steps to ensure that terrorist groups are not allowed any sanctuaries on the soil of either country, adding Pakistan has vowed to act against all terrorists. There are no good or bad terrorists.

Sharif went on to say that Pakistan will not allow its territory to be used by any individual or group to commit acts of terrorism in Afghanistan or elsewhere.

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