German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has called on Pakistan and Afghanistan to work together to ease tensions. His request follows several rounds of peace talks between Islamabad, Kabul and the Taliban.
Steinmeier (pictured above, left) arrived in the Pakistani capital on Monday to hold talks with President Nawaz Sharif, army chief Raheel Sharif, and National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz (pictured above, right).
“Close cooperation between neighboring countries, namely between Afghanistan and Pakistan is important for peace and stability,” Steinmeier said.
According to Sharif’s office, discussions on Monday covered several matters of bi-lateral and regional interest “with particular focus on peace and stability in the region.”
Steinmeier also urged Pakistan to reintroduce a ban on executions that was lifted in December after Taliban gunmen killed 136 children at an army-run school.
“We are passing through a difficult period but it can be reviewed once the security situation improved,” Aziz said, defending the execution policy.
Secret of Taliban leader’s death
Steinmeier’s call to Pakistan and Afghanistan on Monday follows months of disrupted peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban forces.
The latest round of talks was cancelled indefinitely late July after it was confirmed that insurgent leader Mullah Omar had died two years ago.
In a document posted on its website on Monday, the Taliban said key members decided to conceal Omar’s death in April 2013 until foreign forces left Afghanistan.
“One of the main reasons was the fact that 2013 was considered the final year of power testing between the mujahidin and foreign invaders,” the Taliban said in the document.
The Islamist insurgent group was ousted by a US-led military coalition in 2001, and continues to pursue an increasingly violent war against Afghanistan’s foreign-backed government.
“It was for these jihadi considerations that this depressing news was concealed in an extraordinary way up until July 30, 2015,” the Taliban added.
The NATO-led security mission “International Security Assistance Force” (ISAF) withdrew from Afghanistan after 13 years on December 31, 2014. A 13,000-strong residual force is still present, however, to train Afghan forces and aid in counter-terrorism operations.
ksb/jm (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)