ISLAMABAD - A high-level group of Afghan, Pakistani and American officials will meet on Thursday for the first time since September last year for talks on the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan, including efforts to involve the Taliban in negotiations.
The work of the "Core Group" of the three countries was affected by the assassination of Afghan High Peace Council chief Burhanuddin Rabbani in September and a cross-border North Atlantic Treaty Organization air strike in November that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.
The sixth meeting of the Core Group of Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States will be held in Islamabad [ Images ] during April 26-27, said a statement from the foreign office.
"The meeting would review various issues of common interest, including the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process, economic development, narcotics, return of Afghan refugees and regional connectivity," the statement said.
The Pakistani side will be headed by Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani while the US team will be led by Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman. Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin will lead the Afghan delegation.
In addition to the core group meeting, Pakistani officials will hold separate bilateral meetings with their Afghan and American counterparts.
Pakistan-Afghanistan relations were hit after Afghan officials said elements in Pakistan were behind the assassination of Rabbani.
The two countries also exchanged charges over a string of attacks on Pakistani border posts by Taliban fighters based in Afghan territory. The NATO air strike effectively halted cooperation between Pakistan and the US in efforts to find a solution to the problems in Afghanistan.
Pakistan closed all routes used to ferry supplies to US and foreign troops in Afghanistan and forced American personnel to vacate an airbase that was considered a hub for Central Investigating Agency-operated drones. (Agencies)