PM Imran, Erdogan discuss US troops’ pullout from Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan held a telephone conversation from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wherein they discussed bilateral ties besides Afghan peace process in wake of recently announced planned US withdrawal.

The two leaders exchanged felicitations on the advent of the holy month of Ramazan. They discussed issues of mutual interest including further strengthening of bilateral relations in all areas.

In the regional context, the prime minister stressed the importance of a negotiated political settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan ahead of recently announced planned US withdrawal.

He highlighted that Pakistan had fully supported and facilitated the US-Taliban Peace Agreement and the subsequent initiation of Intra-Afghan Negotiations.

The prime minister stressed that the Intra-Afghan Negotiations provided a historic opportunity which must be seized by the Afghan leadership to achieve an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement.

Appreciating Turkey’s role, Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated that Pakistan would continue to extend all possible support to the efforts for a political solution for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.

Both the leaders agreed to keep up the momentum of high-level exchanges to transform bilateral relations into strategic economic partnership.

It may be mentioned that Turkey will host a peace summit for Afghanistan from April 24 to May 4 meant to jump-start efforts to end the war and sketch out a possible political settlement.

The meeting would include the United Nations and Qatar as part of a US-backed push to advance talks ahead of a May 1 deadline for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan.

The Foreign Office of Pakistan has expressed hope that the forthcoming meeting in Turkey would be an important opportunity for Afghans to make progress towards a negotiated political settlement.

In a statement, the Foreign Office said said it is important the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan coincides with progress in the peace process. It said Pakistan had been consistently supporting and facilitating the efforts for durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.

“We believe there is no military solution to the conflict in Afghanistan,” is said.  “We support the principle of responsible troop withdrawal in coordination with Afghan stakeholders and hope the US will continue to urge the Afghan leaders to seize this historic opportunity for achieving a political settlement in Afghanistan,” it added.