UPDATES WITH PAKISTAN'S CONFIRMATION OF TALIBAN ARRIVAL, CHANGES LEDE, DECK, EDITS THROUGHOUT
By Islamuddin Sajid
** ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistan on Wednesday confirmed that an Afghan Taliban delegation had arrived in Islamabad to review progress made under U.S.-Taliban peace talks.
** In a statement, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said the Taliban delegation arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday evening at the invitation of Islamabad.
** "Pakistan has extended an invitation to Taliban Political Commission [TPC] in Doha [Qatar] for a visit," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal
“The visit would provide the opportunity to review the progress made under U.S.-Taliban peace talks so far, and discuss the possibilities of resuming the paused political settlement process in Afghanistan.”
** The program for the delegation’s meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is being finalized, he added.
** Earlier, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Anadolu Agency that the 11-member delegation would meet Pakistan’s leadership to discuss the stalled peace talks with the U.S. and issues faced by Afghan refugees in Pakistan.
A Pakistani Foreign Ministry official said his country wants to help restart stalled peace talks between U.S. officials and the Taliban.
"Pakistan still wants to play its role and facilitate the stalled peace talks between the U.S. and Taliban, and the current move is part of that sincere effort by our country," the official told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity, as he was not authorized to speak with the press.
Pakistan hopes the peace talks between U.S. and Taliban will soon be restarted, he added.
Zalmay Khalilzad, a top U.S. peace negotiator, also arrived in Islamabad late on Tuesday, according to local media.
He arrived as Pakistan is trying to arrange a meeting between him and Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Pakistan English daily Dawn reported.
On Sept. 9, Trump abruptly cancelled a meeting with representatives of the Taliban and Afghan government at the U.S. Camp David retreat.
Trump declared the peace talks with the Taliban "dead" due to for a recent attack in Afghanistan's capital Kabul which killed a dozen people, including a U.S. service member.
The raging Afghan conflict is in its 18th year, with thousands of lives lost and millions forced to flee their homes. The UN has repeatedly urged that opportunities for peace in the region be seized.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan last month asked Trump to restart peace talks with the Taliban during their meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session in New York.