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Special Envoy Says US Determined to Encourage Afghan Dialogue

The U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman, says the United States is using "all of its contacts in the region" in order to get Afghans talking to Afghans.

In an interview with VOA's Urdu Service Tuesday, Grossman did not confirm that the U.S. government is talking to the Taliban at this point, and disagreed with the contention that the United States is sidelining anyone in the Afghan reconciliation process.

Commenting on a New York Times article that the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai feels left out and is starting parallel talks with the Taliban in Saudi Arabia, Grossman called it "wrong" and said that how the Afghans talk to each other is "their business." He stressed that the important thing is that "Afghans talk to Afghans."

He reiterated the State Department's position that the U.S. wants to talk itself "out of a job" by getting the Afghans to talk to each other.

As for U.S.-Pakistani relations, special envoy Grossman called the parliamentary review of Islamabad's ties to Washington Pakistan's right as a sovereign country. He expressed hope that the two countries would be able to forge "a wide-ranging active relationship based on mutual interests and respect."

Grossman acknowledged that Pakistan has a huge role to play in supporting Afghan peace efforts and said Washington has been trying to keep Islamabad informed of its efforts towards Afghan reconciliation and peace.