US Diplomat On Islamabad Visit; Russia Announces Afghan Peace Talks On Nov 9 in Moscow

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ISLAMABAD, Nov 5, 2018: US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Ambassador Alice Wells will visit Islamabad on November 6. She will hold meeting with senior officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), said spokesperson Dr. Mohammad Faisal on the social media.

The aim would be to follow up on discussions between Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo with a view to further strengthen bilateral relations.

Ambassador Wells will also call on the Finance Minister, the spokesperson tweeted.

Ms. Wells trip to Islamabad comes as Moscow announced Saturday it would host Afghan peace talks on November 9 in the Russian capital — even as the United States engages the Taliban in nascent bilateral talks to end the 17-year unwinnable war.

Related Article: Top US Commander in Afghanistan Reveals Pessimism: ‘‘This is not going to be won militarily’

Moscow has also invited representatives from the United States as well as India, Iran, China, Pakistan and five former Soviet republics in Central Asia.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the militant group was still mulling whether to go.

Pakistan, which has long been accused of providing support to the Afghan Taliban, would “definitely” attend, foreign ministry spokesman Muhammad Faisal told AFP.

The meeting comes at a sensitive time.

Newly appointed US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has been trying to convince the Taliban to agree to negotiate an end to the war and there are fears the Russian multi-lateral meeting could derail those efforts.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) team will arrive in Pakistan on Nov 7 and hold talks on a bailout program requested by the country last month.

Pakistan is seeking a bailout program from the IMF in addition to Saudi bailout worth $6 billion and similar from China.

Information minister Fawad Chaudhry said on Monday that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China had been “as successful as that to Saudi Arabia”.

He said further details of the trip would be disclosed by the ministers of finance and planning upon the conclusion of the official visit.

He disclosed that it had been agreed that trade with China would be conducted in the Yuan instead of the US Dollar.

Pakistan exports approx $2 billion worth of goods to China, and the latter exports approx $15 billion to Pakistan–trade deficit is heavily skewed in China’s favor with Pakistan seeking a Free Trade Agreement to somewhat offset it.

Alice Wells last month traveled to Dhaka to discuss strengthening U.S.-Bangladesh partnership, support for the upcoming (December) elections and collaboration on building a prosperous, secure, and interconnected Indo-Pacific region, a State department statement said.

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