Pakistan Army Chief in Kabul for Chief of Defense Summit; Afghan Officials in Talks With Taliban

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has unveiled a USD 4 trillion annual budget for the fiscal 2019 beginning October 1, proposing $256 million in civilian assistance and $80 million in military aid to Pakistan and amid reports that Afghan officials are said to be carrying out at least two tracks of talks with the Taliban

(PKONWEB Report): Pakistan’s Chief Of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday arrived in Kabul to attend Chief of Defense (CHOD) conference, says a press release issued by the military’s media wing ISPR.

United States Central Command Commander General Joseph L Votel, US top military commander in Afghanistan, Afghan army chief and other top security officials will also attend the conference, it said.

Earlier on Monday, newly appointed Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan Ishan Mustafa Yurdakul called on General Bajwa and discussed matters of mutual interest, including regional security issues.

Yurdakul, during his visit, also acknowledged and appreciated Pakistan Army’s contributions for peace and stability in the region.

In a separate meeting, the chief of army staff also met with the Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost. During the meeting, matters of mutual interest and Pak-Iran border management were discussed, said the army’s media wing.

In a related note, Afghan officials are said to be carrying out at least two tracks of talks with the Taliban, The Associated Press has reported, despite President Donald Trump’s angry rejection of any negotiations for now.

The persistence of the back-channel contacts reflects the desire to keep a door open for reconciliation even as the Afghan government and its top ally, the United States, fumble for a strategy to end the protracted war, now entering its 17th year. Rifts within the Afghan government have grown vast, even as the Taliban gain territory and wage increasingly ruthless tactics, the Washington Post reported.

Afghanistan’s intelligence chief Masoom Stanikzai and its National Security Chief Mohammed Hanif Atmar continue to each talk separately to the Taliban, say those familiar with the backdoor negotiations.

Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has unveiled a USD 4 trillion annual budget for the fiscal 2019 beginning October 1, proposing USD 256 million in civilian assistance and USD 80 million in military aid to Pakistan. It also requests more than USD 5 billion for continued US training and assistance for the Afghan security forces.

“The budget also continues to include funding to support America’s partnership with Pakistan,” it said.

“The budget requests USD 256 million for Pakistan in economic and other assistance to help increase stability, promote economic growth and create opportunities for US businesses,” said the annual budgetary proposals sent by the White House to the Congress.

The US State Depart­ment on Monday announced that its budget proposals for the fiscal year 2019, which begins in October this, include both economic and military funds for Pakistan.

The military funds for Pakistan, however, include a condition which requires Islamabad to a decisive action against the Haqqani network and other terrorist groups to receive the assistance.

The largest unconditional budget requ­ests are from the Economic Support Fund and Economic Support and Development Fund of $200 million each for 2018 and 2019 and also $200m set aside for 2017 are also mentioned. These funds are not affected by a recent US ban on aid to Pakistan.

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