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Pakistan key in Afghan peace process: US

October 21, 2010 09:48 IST

Pakistan has a key role to play in the current round of peace talks in Afghanistan as it was earlier involved in "shaping" the war-torn country's past during the Taliban regime there, the US has said.

"You know, to the extent that the Taliban once ruled Afghanistan, there were a small number of countries that recognised that government. Pakistan was one of them. So, Pakistan has played a role in shaping Afghanistan's past," US State Department spokesman, P J Crowley said.

"We want to see Pakistan play a constructive role in helping to shape Afghanistan's future and the relationship that Afghanistan has with other countries in the region."

"There's clearly a level of concern that Pakistan has about what's happening in Afghanistan, Afghanistan has about what's happening in Pakistan. We have the ability, having strong relations with both countries, to help encourage them to have further dialogue and see where they can effectively cooperate," he added.

Crowley, however, did not clearly responded to a question if Pakistan should have a seat at the table in that effort.

"The nature of that role I think is up to discussions between Pakistan and Afghanistan. We recognise that countries have an interest in the future of the region, and we want to see this as part of a regional strategy," he said.

"Pakistan has an interest in a stable Afghanistan. Other countries do as well. And to the extent that Pakistan can play a role in supporting an Afghan-led process, that is something that we have discussed with Pakistan, but more importantly that's something that Pakistan has discussed with Afghanistan itself," Crowley noted.

America has made clear that a solution to the extremist challenge that affects Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as the US and other countries, will involve effective action and solutions on both sides of the border, he said.

"We have assured Pakistan that it has an appropriate role to play in resolving the situation in Afghanistan. But likewise, the Afghan government has also made clear that solving its challenge within Afghanistan involves effective action on the Pakistan side of the border. This is an essential element of our strategy. We need to have aggressive action both in Afghanistan and Pakistan if we're going to defeat this extremist threat," he said.

Reiterating that peace talks is an Afghan-led process, Crowley said that the US will discuss within the strategic dialogue this week ways in which Pakistan can be a part of this broader effort.

"I know there have been Pakistani officials who have met with Afghan officials to discuss this very subject. So we do not want to see efforts by any entity to prevent political reconciliation. This is a fundamental part of our strategy. And Pakistan does have a legitimate role to play in supporting this process.

"But, you know, the broader process of reconciliation is an Afghan-led process. But we do see a role for Pakistan to be involved," the spokesman added.

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