Former Afghan PM praises Pakistan's Gulbuddin Hekmatyar role in peace process

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Ghani, his political opponents and a broad swath of Afghan civil society have been holding meetings in recent days with the United States' special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, who continues to press for talks between the Afghan government, the opposition and the Taliban.

The six rounds held so far have remained stalemated because of Taliban's refusal to talk to the Afghan government until the USA gives a clear commitment and timeframe for withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

The United States and the Taliban will open fresh negotiations next week, the US negotiator said Saturday, as he voiced hope for progress in ending America's longest war.

"The negotiations are useful but they are not enough because they have not produced any positive outcome so far", said presidential candidate Gulbuddin Hekmatyar while addressing a conference of about 60 top Afghan dignitaries hosted by Pakistan on Saturday.

Khalilzad said the sixth round of talks made steady but slow progress on the aspects of the framework for ending the war in Afghanistan.

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The US has said it will not agree to any withdrawal of troops until the Taliban commits to preventing Afghan territory from being used by worldwide "terror" groups, as well as a ceasefire and dialogue with other Aghan parties.

Some Afghan government officials side fear the United States and the Taliban will strike a deal on the withdrawal of foreign forces, enabling the United States to get out of an unpopular war but leaving government forces to battle on alone.

The U.S.is also pressing the Taliban to commit to engaging in an intra-Afghan peace process and to cease hostilities.

But the Taliban have long refused to talk to the Afghan government, denouncing it as foreign "puppet", and fighting has seen no let-up. Pakistan is supporting the Afghan peace process following the principles of mutual respect and non-interference, he added. It was not clear whether the Qatari leader's visit was timed to coincide with the Afghan leaders peace conference in Islamabad or was a coincidence.

The foreign minister underscored the need for the two countries to take "practical steps" to ease mutual tensions and build mutual trust to work jointly for regional economic and political stability.

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