Four-party mechanism’s meeting on Afghan reconciliation to be held in January’s first week: Sartaj

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ISLAMABAD, Dec 23 (APP): Advisor to PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Wednesday said the representatives of Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and United States will meet in the first week of January to discuss ways to resume dialogue between Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban.

“The meeting of the four-party mechanism on reconciliation in Afghanistan will assess the situation and discuss the mechanism of the second round of dialogue,” the Advisor told reporters here at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad.

To a query about the upcoming visit of Army Chief Raheel Sharif to Afghanistan, he said it was part of routine military-to-military cooperation and intelligence sharing.

However, he said, it would be a useful visit where other issues including the prospects and difficulties regarding the Afghan reconciliation process could be discussed.

On follow-up of Pak-India foreign secretary-level talks, Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan had proposed dates of meeting in mid-January in Islamabad.

He said the two foreign secretaries would discuss eight to nine items on agenda.

About Pakistan’s participation in the 34-nation coalition against terrorism, he said Pakistan supported its political objectives against terrorism and had joined the Saudi initiative on voluntary basis.

“This alliance is not compulsory, but voluntary and all countries [including Pakistan] would decide in accordance with their own requirements and priorities,” Sartaj Aziz said the decision about the extent of participation would be made after the bilateral and collective meetings.

“Our decision would be in accordance with our national policies,” he said Regarding not taking parliament into confidence before joining the coalition, he said the Parliament had already settled the policy guidelines on counter-terrorism.

“As long as we work within those guidelines, no further approval is necessary,” he said, adding that the parliament
would be consulted if ever some major decisions were to be
taken.

He said in next few days, broader bilateral consultation would be held on this matter.

When asked to comment on the participation of Iran and Syria in coalition, Sartaj said, “We cannot prescribe who should do what.”

About relations with the United States, he said though the Pak-US relations had experienced a dip during 2011-12 and
also resulted in suspension of strategic dialogue, however at
present, both were cooperating in economic and strategic
areas.