ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Foreign Office said on Friday that a meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and US President Donald Trump was unlikely amid efforts by the US to negotiate an end to the 17-year war in Afghanistan.
“No meeting is being envisaged,” Foreign Office spokesman Dr. Mohammed Faisal told Arab News, adding that no “modalities” for a future meeting had as yet been set.
At a weekly press briefing, Faisal said US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad was in Islamabad, where he met with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and held separate delegation-level talks with Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua.
He was also expected to meet Pakistan’s top military brass.
Khalilzad arrived in Pakistan on Friday after a four-day visit to Kabul.
In early March, he had attended the fifth round of talks between the Taliban and the US in Doha, which ended with both sides declaring that progress had been made.
Khalilzad is in the region to set up a new round of talks to broker a peace agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government to ensure the withdrawal of US forces from the region.
The foreign office said Khalilzad briefed Pakistani officials on the outcome of the talks and shared updates on his meetings in Afghanistan and Doha.
Qureshi reportedly assured the special envoy that Pakistan would continue its “sincere” efforts to push forward the peace process.
The Taliban have so far refused to hold direct talks with the Kabul government, which it considers to be a foreign-appointed puppet regime.
A senior Pakistani foreign office official privy to the meetings between Khalilzad and the foreign minister told Arab News on condition of anonymity that there were strong signs that talks between the Afghan Taliban and the United States would result in an agreement with the Afghan government.
Khalilzad had urged Pakistan to negotiate a settlement, the official said.
“They want us to negotiate a victory for them in Afghanistan; how can we do that?” the official asked. “They want us to broker a deal with the Taliban and we can’t do that.”
He added: “We have repeatedly told the US that our role is limited.”
The US Embassy in Islamabad declined to comment on discussions between the US and Pakistani officials.
On Thursday, Khalilzad said relations between Islamabad and Washington would not improve until Pakistan revised its policies toward Afghanistan.
“We … are seeking an agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan that can result in peace and (can stop) the interferences Pakistan has made in Afghanistan,” Khalilzad said.
His comments were a veiled reference to remarks by Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan last month that suggested Kabul should set up an interim government. Afghanistan recalled its ambassador from Pakistan over the comments.
Earlier, the US Department of State said Khalilzad’s trip was “part of an overall effort to facilitate a peace process that brings all Afghan parties together in inclusive intra-Afghan negotiations.”
The special envoy is expected to make a stopover in Qatar, where the Taliban have long had a political office, during his tour, which concludes on April 10.