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Interview: China To 'Facilitate' Talks Between Pakistan, Afghanistan

Sartaj Aziz (right) shakes hands with U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMaster in Islamabad in April.
Sartaj Aziz (right) shakes hands with U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMaster in Islamabad in April.

China's foreign minister is scheduled to visit Islamabad and Kabul this month to discuss ways to improve relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan, a top Pakistani government official has told RFE/RL.

Sartaj Aziz, adviser to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on foreign affairs, made the comments in a June 14 interview with RFE/RL.

He said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will visit the Pakistani and Afghan capitals at the end of this month to "facilitate" talks between the two neighbors.

Sharif and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani held a meeting on June 9 on the sidelines of Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Astana, Kazakhstan.

At the meeting, Aziz said, the two leaders agreed in principle to "start talks on whatever misunderstandings or tensions exist and to devise a mechanism to address each other's concerns."

Aziz also mentioned a proposal to "revive" the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG), made up of officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States, and China.

The QCG has been trying to facilitate direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, but its work was suspended after the death of Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansur in a U.S. drone strike on Pakistani soil a year ago.

Afghanistan has long accused Pakistan of harboring and supporting militant groups that carry out attacks across shared borders, which Islamabad rejects.

Afghan and Pakistani troops have clashed across the boundary between the two states, which Kabul does not recognize as an international border.

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