ISLAMABAD – Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said Monday he wants the United States to restart peace talks with the Afghan Taliban.
Khan spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, before he met with U.S. President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.
Trump called off his administration’s months-long peace negotiations with the Taliban two weeks ago, citing ongoing deadly insurgent attacks against Afghans and American service members. He declared the dialogue process as “dead” just when the two sides had reached a draft framework agreement to end the 18-year-old Afghan war.
Khan stressed Monday that Pakistan had played a role in arranging the U.S.-Taliban dialogue to help bring peace to neighboring Afghanistan.
“The peace deal was just about to be signed,” before Trump canceled the talks, insisted the Pakistani leader. Khan added that his country had not been informed about Trump’s decision, which he said he only learned about through the media.
Speaking to the Council, Khan had a message for Trump.
“Look, there is not going to be a military solution. For 19 years if you have not been able to succeed, you’re not going to be able to succeed in another 19 years,” he said.
Monday’s meeting with Trump is Khan’s second since he visited the White House July 22 for his first interaction with the American president. Officials in both countries say the July meeting has helped improve bilateral ties.
Khan rejected allegations that Pakistan’s covert support and shelter for Taliban insurgents came in the way of U.S. military success in Afghanistan. He recounted how his country has suffered unprecedented human and financial losses since joining Washington’s war on terror in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror strikes against the United States.
He told the Council audience that Pakistan still hosts 2.7 million Afghan refugees, with 500,000 thousands of them living in temporary camps. Thousands of them move across the border every day, and Pakistani authorities are not able to determine whether or not insurgents are also among them.