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Pakistan ready to consider all steps for Afghan peace: FO

21 June, 2013

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is ready to consider all steps and efforts that can further reconciliation in Afghanistan, the Foreign Office said on Thursday.

An FO spokesman confirmed that Pakistan also facilitated opening of the Taliban office in Doha as it is part of the larger process of reconciliation to end the war and ensure peace and security in Afghanistan.

Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry in his weekly briefing said that Pakistan had been supportive of an all-inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue and it was in that spirit that it extended support to the Doha process.

He expressed confidence that the process of reconciliation would help bring the war to an end and also lead to lasting peace in Afghanistan.

He said that earlier when the Afghan High Peace Council delegation visited Pakistan and requested for release of Taliban prisoners in order to allow them to join the reconciliation process, Pakistan had released 26 Taliban prisoners at that time.

To a question, he said that Pakistan had been talking to the US and the Afghan government led by President Hamid Karzai.

Regarding the name of Taliban's Doha office, the spokesman said, "Pakistan recognises the government of President Karzai as the legitimate government of Afghanistan."

About nature and details of Doha office, he said that Pakistan just facilitated the process and the matter of opening of office was between Qatar, Taliban and the United States.

Responding to a question, he said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had already stated that Pakistan was ready for talks with the Taliban. About drone strikes, he said that Pakistan believed they must come to an end. "Pakistan is giving high priority to the issue and the matter has been taken up at the highest level with the US government on the instructions of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif."

He said there was an across-the-board political consensus on the position taken by the government of Pakistan on drones.

To a question, he said the visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to Pakistan had been delayed due to developments in the Middle East.

He also clarified that John Kerry would visit Pakistan soon and the dates were being worked out. aHe denied that there were any unpleasant exchanges when the American charge d'affaires was summoned to the Foreign Office by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Tariq Fatemi to register a strong protest over drone strikes.

He said the meeting proceeded as per normal diplomatic courtesies and there was no mishap or any discourtesy.

To another question, Chaudhry said the present government was committed to resolving the energy crisis and for that purpose all options, including the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, were under consideration. The spokesman termed the firing by Indian troops across the Line of Control in Kashmir as "unfortunate", and said the ceasefire should be respected in letter and spirit.

To another question, he said some politically appointed diplomats had already resigned, while the prime minister would decide the fate of others.

End.

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