Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan says “a much stronger effort” is needed to further ongoing peace talks his country is facilitating between the United States and Afghanistan’s Taliban.
Addressing a televised joint news conference in Istanbul after official talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Khan said Afghans have suffered for decades and it is time for the International community to help bring an end to the war in the country.
“Pakistan has already been helping a dialogue between the Taliban and the Americans but it needs a much stronger effort from all the stakeholders, neighbors,” the prime minister emphasized.
Khan was referring to two-day talks in Abu Dhabi last month between U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, and senior Taliban representatives that Pakistan said it had arranged.
Khalilzad and the Taliban described the dialogue “productive” and promised to meet again soon. Insurgents demand complete withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan, saying their presence are blocking progress toward peace.
Speaking Friday, President Erdoğan announced he will host a trilateral summit meeting with Pakistan and Afghanistan after Turkey’s March 31 local elections to discuss the peace process.
“I look forward to the summit meeting inshallah [God willing] in Istanbul where we hope that Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey will be able to help in this [Afghan] peace process … a much badly needed peace,” Prime Minister Khan said.
Pakistan’s role in arranging the U.S.-Taliban talks, analysts say, is leading to a thaw in Islamabad’s traditionally tumultuous relationship with Washington.
Speaking on Wednesday, President Donald Trump apparently acknowledged the improvement in mutual ties. “We do want to have a great relationship with Pakistan … so, I look forward to meeting with the new leadership in Pakistan. We will be doing that in the not too distant future.”
Khan’s two-day official meetings in Turkey ended Friday and it was his first visit to the country since taking power after the July elections in Pakistan. The two Muslim nations enjoy close relations.
Prime Minister Khan assured Turkey of his country’s support to defeat Islamic State, saying the terrorist group “already has emerged in various parts of Afghanistan” and threatens the security of Pakistan.
Erdoğan also praised a recent ruling by Pakistan’s supreme court, which declared exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen’s organization, FETÖ, a terrorist group.
The highest Pakistani court also handed over schools being run by the outlawed organization in the country to a Turkish government foundation.
Turkey accuses Gulen of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016.