Kerry Meets With Afghan, Pakistani Leaders on ReconciliationNicole Gaouette
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a meeting of Afghan and Pakistani officials today for what he described as extensive, productive and constructive dialogue aimed of bolstering trust between both countries and speeding possible reconciliation talks with the Taliban.
“It’s fair to say there’s good feelings among all of us,” Kerry said, “that we made progress in this dialogue in terms of those discussions, but we’ve all agreed that results are what will tell the story, not statements at a press conference.”
Kerry met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Defense Minister Bismullah Khan Mohammadi as well as Pakistani General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Foreign Secretary Jalil Jilani. The talks took place over about three-and-a-half hours at the residence of the U.S. Ambassador to NATO in Brussels.
Kerry earlier attended a North Atlantic Treaty Organization ministers’ meeting in Belgium to work, in part, on determining how the alliance will support Afghan forces after 2014, when its combat role in the country will end.
The meeting is part of “a continuing trilateral discussion with respect to the security and other issues regarding relationships in the region, as well as the road forward heading toward 2014, a critical transformational period,” Kerry said earlier today.
Kerry said talks would continue on the political and security track and that all three would have “some very specific homework to do.”
After about two hours of talks, Kerry took Karzai and Kayani out for a stroll around a garden inside the 27-acre grounds.
Attempts to bring the two countries together have been stymied by distrust between Afghanistan and Pakistan, whose security services have close ties to the Taliban and other militant groups. Pakistan maintains these ties in order to wield influence inside Afghanistan after NATO troops pull out, an administration official said.
Karzai has said that Pakistan is crucial to bringing the Taliban and other militant groups into negotiations.