Letter to PM: Trump seeks Pakistan's help in solving Afghan Taliban issue

Letter to PM: Trump seeks Pakistan's help in solving Afghan Taliban issue

He said that in the letter, Trump had sought Pakistan's help in solving Afghan peace process.

Mr Mattis was responding to a question from reporters about the letter written by US President Donald Trump to Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, seeking his support in the peace process in Afghanistan.

The development came weeks after Trump said Pakistan does not do "a damn thing" for the USA, alleging that Islamabad had helped al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden hide near its garrison city of Abbottabad.

Pakistan must take on a substantive role in peace talks with the Taliban if the war in neighbouring Afghanistan is to be ended, he said. In his letter Donald Trump has made it clear that Pakistan's full support in this regard "is fundamental" to building an enduring US-Pakistan partnership.

Pakistani authorities did not release the letter, which information minister Fawad Chaudhry said Mr Khan received on Monday morning. "Peace and stability in Afghanistan remains a shared responsibility", Faisal concluded.

Despite near-daily attacks by the Taliban, who now hold sway in about half of Afghanistan's territory, the Trump administration has stepped up efforts to find a peaceful solution to the protracted war.

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The US embassy in Islamabad had no immediate comment on the letter.

US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, talks with local reporters at the USA embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Nov. 18, 2018.

The White House believes that Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency and other military bodies have long helped fund and arm the Taliban both for ideological reasons and to counter rising Indian influence in Afghanistan.

The State Department said Khalilzad will also travel to Kabul, Russia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, where the Taliban has stationed its political negotiators in a so-called "political office".

"Since Pakistan has always advocated a political settlement to end the war in Afghanistan, US decision is welcomed", it said.

In a televised interview to selected journalists in the evening, Khan said his government would "try our best to make the Afghan Taliban sit together with the Americans so that negotiations can be carried forward", without giving further details.

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