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US envoy on Afghan peace takes his mission to Pakistan

AP  |  Islamabad 

Washington's newly named point man tasked with finding a peaceful end to Afghanistan's 17-year war is in to seek help from the new government in in bringing the to the negotiating table, the said Tuesday.

A former US in Kabul, arrived in from neighboring His tour of the region will also include stops in the United Arab Emirates, and

In Afghanistan, he met with Ashraf Ghani, a long-time friend. Khalilzad, who was also born in Afghanistan, first served in as a special envoy of following the 2001 ouster of the Taliban, and then later as Washington's

But Khalilzad has had a prickly relationship with and has often accused of fomenting violence in by supporting the He has even said the should declare Pakistan a terrorist state.

and have both repeatedly accused Pakistan of providing safe havens for insurgents, a claim has denied and countered with charges that its own insurgents have found sanctuary in

Both neighbouring countries have been brutally targeted by militants. In Pakistan the perpetrators have most often been the region's Islamic State affiliate, as well as the Pakistani Taliban.

In neighbouring Afghanistan, the IS has been relentless in attacks, mostly targeting minority Shiites. The Afghan Taliban say they restrict their attacks to Afghan security forces but thousands of civilians have been killed in their attacks.

Pakistan's new has been a of Islamabad's previous participation in Washington's so-called war on terror.

However, he promised after winning the polls in July that his government would be "partners in peace." It is not clear what that would entail but Pakistan has supported Afghan Ghani's peace overtures to the Taliban.

In Pakistan, Khalilzad was met by Tehmina Janjua, who led a delegation that included "security, defense and diplomatic officials," according to a tweet from the There were no further details.

Pakistan's Afghan policy is largely seen as navigated by the military and its intelligence agency, known by its acronym, ISI.

Khalilzad's tour of the region, which was first announced by the State Department as a mission to coordinate and lead U.S. efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, has been shrouded in secrecy.

One of his stops is Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office. In July, the Taliban said they met there with Alice Wells, Washington's then-top

has neither denied nor confirmed the meeting though Wells was in at the time. It is not known whether there would be a similar meeting with Khalilzad on his visit.

Direct talks with the US have been a persistent demand of the Taliban, who accuse of being America's "puppets." The Taliban have refused so far to comment on Khalilzad's appointment.

The Afghan Taliban have condemned Afghanistan's later this month and threatened more attacks on Afghan security forces.

In a statement on Monday, which was also released in English, the Taliban also urged Afghan candidates to withdraw their names from the ballot lists. They denounced the polls as an America-designed ploy to further US interests in Afghanistan and warned Afghan security forces that they would be targeted.

The statement also repeated the long-standing Taliban demand for a complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, October 09 2018. 16:30 IST