Washington, Oct 16: Calling Pakistan an important player in the Afghan puzzle, the White House has said that its role in facilitating reconciliation process between Taliban and Afghanistan will be discussed between US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in their meet next week.
"We already know that Pakistan has played an important role in trying to facilitate reconciliation talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government," White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest told reporters yesterday.
In fact, one of the early rounds of those talks actually took place in Pakistan, were hosted by the Pakistani government, he said.
"I don't want to be in a position of speaking for the Pakistani government, but it's the President's view that everybody in that region recognises the important benefits associated with progress on reconciliation talks," he said in response to a question.
The President is going to continue to use the influence that he has with the Afghan government to encourage them to pursue those talks.
"I think that is, frankly, something that the Afghan government doesn't need a lot of encouragement to pursue. That's something that they themselves are interested in," he said.
At a separate briefing Pentagon Press Secretary, Peter Cook, said Pakistan is an important player in the Afghan puzzle. "Everyone involved in this effort with Resolute Support working with the Afghan government is trying to take a comprehensive look at this picture and trying to involve Pakistan in that conversation has been important.
And the relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan is important going forward," he said. "Certainly, Pakistan is an important part of that conversation going forward.
It's not the only part of that conversation, obviously, as well," Cook said in response to a question. Acknowledging that the US government doesn't have a lot of influence with the Taliban, Earnest said, but there are other countries in the region and other actors in the region that do.
"And we certainly will play a role in encouraging those countries and those actors in the region to encourage to use their influence with the Taliban to encourage them to pursue and engage in these reconciliation talks," he said.
"One of the things that we know is a particular grievance of the Taliban is the presence of US and foreign military personnel on the ground in Afghanistan," he said.