US and Afghanistan to hold bilateral talks minus Pakistan

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Lalit K Jha

Washington, Feb 15 (PTI) Keeping up the pressure onPakistan to release its jailed diplomat, the US is going aheadwith a key meeting on Afghanistan, sans Islamabad.

"Bilateral talks between the US and Afghanistan in theareas such as security and agriculture will be held," theAfghan Embassy spokesman Abduljalil Ghafoory said.

The meeting to be held here from February 23 to 25,was to be a trilateral affair involving top leaders from US,Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Afghan delegation would be led by its ForeignMinister Zalmai Rassoul and is expected to include a number ofother high-ranking Cabinet ministers.

"The High ranking officials of Afghanistan and theUnited States will combine dialogue on advancing security andagriculture with a focus on key areas of mutual cooperation,seeking to deepen links between the countries," Ghafoory said.

The Obama Administration put off the trilateralmeeting as part of its freeze on high-level contacts withPakistan to exert pressure on Islamabad to release RaymondDavis, the US government employee who has been arrested onmurder charges.

There was no immediate word from US State Departmenton the meeting.

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