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

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid