News / Asia

Kerry to Host Afghan, Pakistani Talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a meet-and-greet session with European Commission fellows in Brussels, Belgium, April 22, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a meet-and-greet session with European Commission fellows in Brussels, Belgium, April 22, 2013.
Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will host talks between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and senior Pakistan officials in Brussels on Wednesday, officials said, with the aim of calming tension over border disputes and a flagging peace process.

The meeting is part of a series of on-off discussions between Afghanistan and Pakistan at the behest of the United States, a senior State Department official said on Monday, confirming that Kerry had offered to host the gathering.

Afghanistan has grown increasingly frustrated with Pakistan over efforts to pursue a peace process involving the Taliban, suggesting that Islamabad is intent on keep Afghanistan unstable until after foreign combat forces have left at the end of 2014.

Kerry said the meeting would discuss the handover of security responsibility to Afghan forces this year, a move intended to allow for the end of NATO-led combat operations.

"This is the year of transition. This is the critical year in Afghanistan,'' he told U.S. diplomats in Brussels."We are going to have a trilateral and try to talk about how we can advance this process in the simplest, most cooperative and most cogent way, so that we wind up with both Pakistan's and Afghanistan's interes ts being satisfied, but, most importantly, with a stable and peaceful Afghanistan which is worth the expenditure and the treasure and effort of these last years.''

U.S. officials are hopeful that Kerry, who has a good relationship with Karzai, can bring the parties back to the negotiating table and make constructive progress on an issue that has long-term security implications for Washington.

An Afghan spokesman said earlier that Karzai would travel to Brussels for the talks, which follow weeks of tension with Pakistan over their 2,600 km (1,600 mile) border and stalled peace efforts.

"Our message to Pakistan is enough is enough,'' Karzai's spokesman, Aimal Faizi, said in Kabul. "This time we will tell Pakistan that our people's patience is running out and we can't wait for Pakistan to deliver on Afghan peace promises.''

Troop withdrawal

Last month, Afghanistan's deputy foreign minister called Pakistan "complacent" when it came to the nascent peace efforts and said it was ready to work on reconciliation with Taliban groups without Pakistan's help if necessary.

A public slanging match ensued, with the Pakistani Foreign Ministry accusing Karzai of being an "impediment'' to the peace process.

Although there have been several meetings in Western capitals over the past few months in which representatives of the Taliban have met Afghan peace negotiators, there have been no signs of a breakthrough.

Kabul accuses Pakistan of harboring the Taliban leadership in the city of Quetta and using militants as proxies to counter the influence of India in Afghanistan.

Publicly, the Taliban say they will not engage in peace talks with the Karzai government.

As well as Karzai and Kerry, the meeting will include Afghanistan's defence minister, Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, and Pakistan's foreign secretary, Jalil Jilani, the U.S. official said.

The talks will take place the day after a meeting on Tuesday of NATO foreign ministers in Brussels, which Kerry will attend. That meeting will discuss the process of transition and the shift in the role of foreign troops from combat to training, advising and assisting Afghan forces.

NATO ministers agreed in February that they would think in terms of no more than 8,000-12,000 NATO troops remaining in the country after 2014 compared with about 100,000 now. The United States had yet to decide how many troops it will keep in the country and U.S. officials say much will depend on negotiations between the United States and Afghanistan on the legal status of those troops.

Karzai's spokesman said hopes for a breakthrough at Wednesday's talks were slim. "Discussions have been warm and friendly in the past but Pakistan unfortunately did not take any practical steps,'' Faizi said.

Earlier this month there was outrage in Afghanistan over the building of a Pakistani military outpost in a border area of Nangarhar province which the Afghan Defence Ministry says was inside Afghan territory.

You May Like

Photogallery Pope Condemns IS 'Persecution' of Minorities

Pope delivers annual 'Urbi et Orbi' (to the city and the world) blessing, appeals for end to conflicts in Africa, dialogue in Middle East, condemns Taliban attack in Pakistan More

China Reduces Number of Crimes Punishable by Death

Earlier this year China announced plans to remove nine crimes from the list of capital offenses, including counterfeiting, fraudulent fund-raising and forcing others into prostitution More

Analysis: For N. Koreans, Parody Has Grave Tone

Most North Koreans who might see 'The Interview' would be horribly offended, outraged, and confused More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syriai
X
Jeff Seldin
December 24, 2014 11:38 PM
Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaise

Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Mombasa in Holiday Tourism Slump Due to Security Fears

Kenya's usually popular beachside tourist destination of Mombasa is seeing a much slower holiday season this year due to fears of insecurity as the country has suffered from a string of terror attacks linked to Somali militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA on how businessmen and tourists feel about the situation.
Video

Video For Somalis, 2014 Marked by Political Instability Within Government

While Somalia has long been torn apart by warfare and violence, this year one of the country's biggest challenges has come from within the government, as political infighting curtails the country's progress, threatens security gains and disappoints the international community. VOA's Gabe Joselow report.
Video

Video US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.
Video

Video Islamic State Emergence Transforms Syria and Iraq in 2014

The emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria as a potent force in early 2014 changed the dynamics of the region. Their brutal methods - including executions and forced slavery - horrified the international community, drawing Western forces into the conflict. It also splintered the war in Syria, where more than 200,000 Syrians have died in the conflict. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell looks back at a deadly year in the region -- and what 2015 may hold.
Video

Video Massive Study Provides Best Look at Greenland Ice Loss Yet

The Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than predicted, according to a new study released in the Proceedings of the National Academic of Sciences that combines NASA satellite data and aerial missions. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the finding means coastal communities worldwide could be at greater risk, sooner, from the impact of rising seas.
Video

Video US Marines, Toys for Tots Bring Christmas Joy

Christmas is a time for giving in the United States, especially to young children who look forward to getting presents. But some families don't have money to buy gifts. For nearly 70 years, a U.S. Marines-sponsored program has donated toys and distributed them to underprivileged children during the holiday season. VOA's Deborah Block tells us about the annual Toys for Tots program.
Video

Video France Rocked by Attacks as Fear of ISIS-Inspired Terror Grows

Eleven people were injured, two seriously, when a man drove his car into crowds of pedestrians Sunday night in the French city of Dijon, shouting ‘God is Great’ in Arabic. It’s the latest in a series of apparent ‘lone-wolf’ terror attacks in the West. Henry Ridgwell looks at the growing threat of attacks, which security experts say are likely inspired by the so-called "Islamic State" terror group.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid