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Afghanistan's Ghani Thanks Pakistan For Help With Taliban Talks

FILE: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani
FILE: Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani thanked Pakistan on January 17 for its help in advancing peace talks with the Taliban amid continuing diplomatic efforts to find a solution to the 17-year war in the country, Pakistani officials said.

U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been leading the push to broker an agreement with the Afghan Taliban, was due in Pakistan following meetings with Ghani and other Afghan officials in Kabul.

On January 17, Ghani called Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and "expressed his gratitude for Pakistan's sincere facilitation of these efforts," according to a statement from a Pakistan government spokesman's office.

Afghanistan has often had hostile relations with neighboring Pakistan, regularly accusing Islamabad of supporting the Taliban.

Pakistani officials deny supporting the extremist group and say Islamabad is strongly in favor of a settlement that would maintain stability in Afghanistan.

Taliban representatives said this week that Islamabad was pressuring its leaders to accept talks with the Afghan government, detaining a senior leader in the city of Peshawar before releasing him a few days later.

Taliban envoys have met with Khalilzad on at least three occasions but have repeatedly refused to talk directly to the internationally recognized Afghan government, which they view as a puppet of Washington.