Afghan official: New round of 4-country talks set to begin
KABUL, Afghanistan — Representatives of four countries will meet in the Afghan capital Kabul on Monday for a second round of talks aimed at bringing an end to Afghanistan's war by charting a roadmap to peace, a Foreign Ministry official said.
Senior officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States would meet for one day, a week after discussions in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, said Shekib Mostaghni, the ministry's spokesman.
Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani was due to open the meeting, taking place at the Presidential Palace in the center of the capital.
Security in parts of the capital was tight with a heavy armed police presence.
The Taliban have not been invited to this meeting, nor did representatives attend a previous meeting in Islamabad last week.
The meetings seek to revive a process that was derailed last July after the first and only face-to-face meeting between Afghan government and Taliban representatives in Islamabad.
That initiative faltered when Kabul announced that the insurgent group's leader had secretly been dead for more than two years.
A subsequent meeting was cancelled and relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan chilled, as President Ashraf Ghani publicly blamed Pakistan for using the Taliban to wage war on his country.
Mostaghni said the meeting would be attended by the same officials that met in Islamabad last week: Afghanistan's Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai, U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard G. Olson, his Chinese counterpart Deng Xijun and Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry. Sartaj Aziz, a senior foreign policy adviser to Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pentagon's senior envoy to Pakistan, Lt. Gen. Anthony Rock were also present.
The discussions are seen as preparatory meetings laying the foundation for a direct dialogue between representatives of the Kabul government and the Taliban, though that is not seen taking place for many months.
The Taliban have intensified their war in the past year, following the drawdown of international combat troops in 2014.