Oman hosts meeting on Afghanistan peace talks

The meeting is taking place after the US announced a new strategy on Afghanistan that calls for more pressure on the Taliban and on Pakistan to tackle militant sanctuaries

epa06265758 An Afghan soldier takes aim during an offensive against Taliban militants as they recaptured some of the districts in Nad-e-Ali area from Taliban militants, in Helmand, Afghanistan, 14 October 2017. Afghan security forces have launched an offensive against the Taliban militants in Helmand province on 13 October. The government now controls less than 60 percent of Afghan territory amid gains for the Taliban, who governed the country for several years prior to the US invasion in October 2001.  EPA/WATAN YAR
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Muscat // Representatives from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States met on Monday in Oman to discuss reviving peace talks with the Taliban and Pakistan’s efforts on fighting terrorism.

The sixth meeting of Quadrilateral Coordination Group comes 16 months since the last such meeting in Islamabad.

The meeting is taking place after the US announced a new strategy on Afghanistan that calls for more pressure on the Taliban and on Pakistan to tackle militant sanctuaries.

The representatives from the four countries were met by Oman’s foreign ministry’s officials, an Omani official attending the meeting said.

“Pakistan plays a key role to it. The country has enough influence in the Taliban. China’s representatives are here also and they will provide specific solutions to the peace roadmap while the US will be looking for commitments.” the Omani official told the National.

The meeting is held in an effort to revive peace talks with Afghan militants, who boycotted the meeting in Muscat on Monday.

The Taliban, ousted in a US-led military intervention in 2001, has been gaining territory in recent years through a violent insurgency in an effort to topple Afghanistan's Western-backed government and re-establish a fundamentalist Islamic regime.

“It is another peace talk. Nothing is guaranteed. It all depends on the commitments of all parties to resolve the problems. But we remain optimistic,” the official added.

Talks and efforts to kick start negotiations have failed following the 2015 announcement of the death of the Taliban's founder and long-time leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, in 2013.

The United States wants Pakistan, which it accuses of harbouring Afghan Taliban commanders, to exert more influence on the group to bring them to the negotiating table.

But Pakistani officials deny sheltering Taliban militants and say their influence on the group has waned.

The talks come amid reports that the US is pushing Afghanistan to request for the closure of the Taliban’s office in Qatar.

The office opened in 2013 and was meant to be an avenue through which he US could pursue peace talks with the Taliban but has yielded little success.