Pakistan, US discuss Afghan reconciliation process

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He said peace remains a top priority of the National Unity Government, and it has been transformed into a national debate over the past two years. Multiethnic Afghan society has several needs and Taliban being predominantly Pashtuns, which is also the largest ethnicity of Afghanistan, are failing to win the trust of the entire society.

The Afghan Taliban have said that the assembly is, "part of exhibitory efforts by the stooges of America in a continuous process of fooling the nation". "We are in a great hurry for peace".

Ordinary Afghans, who have endured decades of war, express frustration with both sides. "The United States stands with them". "Peace in Afghanistan would increase connectivity between Pakistan and Central Asia, and of course connect China", Khan said as quoted in a report by the VOA on April 28.

Khalilzad has criticised the Taliban's latest offensive as "reckless" and "irresponsible", especially since it came at a time when the "Afghan people have clearly voiced their desire for peace".

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Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs also stated that the prime minister's comments were reported out of context.

Earlier in his opening remarks, head of the jirga Mohammad Omar Daudzai, called upon all the oppositions including the Taliban group to attend the Jirga and play their due role in ending the war and finding the way to achieve peace in Afghanistan. It is not right to seek an edge in dialogue through coercion.

He has signalled progress in talks, which centre on the Taliban guaranteeing Afghanistan can never again be used as a springboard for foreign terror attacks, in return for an eventual withdrawal of foreign forces.

He added: "Our focus is on terrorism". But the gathering instead looks to further aggravate divisions within the US -backed government, even as America makes progress with the insurgents in direct talks aimed at ending the 18-year war. "We are seeking peace and (a) political settlement".

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In a statement, Karzai on Saturday had said that the assembly must help Afghans in creating, "an atmosphere of trust, and grounds for peace, not the opposite".

"We are all here to talk about the framework of peace talks with the Taliban ... reaching a sustainable peace is very important to us", said Ghani in his welcome address to delegates.

One major sticking point is the Taliban's refusal to negotiate with the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, which has wide-ranging global support.

In several rounds of talks with the Taliban, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has narrowed the gaps on a deal under which U.S. forces would withdraw in return for guarantees that Afghanistan not revert to a haven for global terrorists.

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As of now, the only available representation of Afghan society, the Kabul government which has recently undergone parliamentary elections, has been sidelined completely since Taliban are not ready to give them any degree of legitimacy.