WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said he would try meet with the Taliban in an effort to persuade the group to meet with the Afghan government, as the United States seeks to end the nearly 18-year old war.
“I will meet the Taliban and I will try my best to get them to talk to the Afghan government,” Khan said during an appearance at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington.
Khan said a Taliban delegation had wanted to meet him a few months back but he did not because of opposition from the Afghan government.
The United States and the Taliban are getting closer to a deal that is expected to be centered on a U.S. pledge to withdraw troops in exchange for a Taliban promise not to let Afghanistan be used as a base for terrorism, officials say.
However, the Taliban have refused to negotiate with the government, denouncing it as a U.S puppet, but in an effort to foster Afghan reconciliation, a 60-strong delegation of citizens met the Taliban for two days of talks in Qatar from Sunday.
Pakistan’s role in the peace negotiations is a delicate one.
Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of supporting the Taliban, a charge Pakistan denies, saying it has suffered heavily from the fighting.
The United States has also pressed Islamabad to do more to curb militant groups based in its territory.
Even as talks continue, the Taliban and the government have continued fighting.
Afghan government forces mistakenly killed seven civilians, including children, in an attack on militants south of the capital, a provincial official said on Monday, the latest victims of a war undiminished by peace talks.
Reporting by Jonathan Landay and Idrees Ali; Editing by Susan Thomas