ISLAMABAD - Afghan Taliban leaders and US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad were in Islamabad yesterday to revive the dialogue process, termed ‘dead’ last month by President Donald Trump.

Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen tweeted that a delegation of Taliban members, led by one of the group's founders, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, will discuss “important issues” with Pakistani officials in Islamabad.

Later, Pakistan confirmed the development. “Pakistan has extended an invitation to Taliban Political Commission in Doha for a visit. The visit would provide the opportunity to review the progress made under US-Taliban peace talks so far, and discuss the possibilities of resuming the paused political settlement process in Afghanistan. Accordingly a Taliban delegation is scheduled to visit Islamabad,” said a statement released by the ministry.

“Programme for the TPC delegation’s meeting with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi is being finalised,” the statement added.

The Taliban delegation members are expected to inform Pakistan's leadership of the factors that derailed the talks with the US aimed at striking a deal allowing US and other foreign troops to withdraw in exchange for Taliban security guarantees.

Since President Trump ended talks with the Taliban, Prime Minister Imran Khan and other officials have been urging the US to resume talks on ending nearly 18 years of fighting in neighbouring Afghanistan.

The Taliban and the US said last month they were close to reaching a deal, despite concerns among some US security officials and within the Afghan government that a US withdrawal could plunge the country into even more conflict.

It was not clear whether the Taliban delegation would also meet Prime Minister Imran Khan but arrangements were on for a meeting with Foreign Minister Qureshi. There was no official word on whether Zalmay Khalilzad would meet the Afghan Taliban led by Baradar in Islamabad.

Baradar, one of the group’s founders, is making his first visit to Pakistan since he was released a year ago from a Pakistani jail. He later assumed the role of the Taliban’s chief negotiator with the US on a withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. Baradar, who previously coordinated the group’s operations in southern Afghanistan, was arrested in 2010.

Zalmay Khalilzad met Pakistani counterparts in Islamabad this week, following discussions between President Trump and Prime Minister Khan in the United States the previous week.

“These consultations follow discussions held between the United States and Pakistan during the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week,” said a spokesperson for the US Embassy in Islamabad. The spokesperson did not say if Khalilzad planned to meet the Taliban officials.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told VOA “I don’t rule out” direct talks between the 11-member Taliban team and the US delegation. He said the Taliban delegation will stay in Islamabad until October 6.

Shaheen told VOA in their meetings with Pakistani officials, Taliban delegates will discuss “a wide range of key issues” and the fate of the defunct peace deal with the United States.

“The agreement has been finalised and it only needs to be signed. Even both sides had agreed to ink the document a week later on September 13 and intra-Afghan negotiations would have then started ten days later on September 23. But Trump’s tweet disrupted everything,” Shaheen lamented.

He asserted that the American side has backtracked from the peace deal, but that the Taliban “still stands by it steadfast” and wants to conclude it to carry the Afghan peace process forward. “If someone is interested in resolving the conflict in Afghanistan, the agreement we have worked out after a yearlong effort offers the solution,” Shaheen said.

A US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media, told AP news agency that Khalilzad is not in Islamabad to resume the peace process.

A Pakistani government source told Reuters the Taliban would and meet PM Imran Khan.

The United States has long considered Pakistani cooperation as crucial to efforts to end war in Afghanistan.

Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesperson for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, said on Twitter that the Afghan government should be involved in any peace process. “No progress will be imminent if a peace process is not owned and led by the Afghan government,” he said.

The Taliban have refused to negotiate with the Afghan government, dismissing it as a US puppet. Taliban officials have in recent days visited Russia, China and Iran.

Earlier, Pakistan vowed to bring the US and the Afghan Taliban back on the talks’ table. Pakistan, government officials said, was expecting a result-oriented dialogue between the two parties soon.

“Whatever influence we have (on Taliban), we will use it for peace in the region. In the end, we have to sit for talks so we are working on this. We have been urging both the sides (the US and the Taliban) to return to talks,” said one official.

Recently, Prime Minister Khan held meetings with President Trump, lawmakers and diplomats in New York to highlight the humanitarian crisis in Indian Occupied Kashmir and to discuss the lingering Afghan issue.

There was also scepticism that the last month’s bombing in Kabul was the real reason the talks were called off. The Taliban issued a statement saying an agreement had been “finalised” and that talks had ended in “a good atmosphere” but the deal had been sabotaged by Trump. “Reacting to just one attack, just before the signing of the agreement, shows neither patience nor experience,” the statement said.

The Taliban would continue their “jihad (holy war)” against foreign “occupation”, the statement said. “Now, the announcement by the president of the United States, Donald Trump, of an end to negotiations with the Islamic Emirate (the Taliban) will harm America more than anyone else; it will harm its credibility, and further expose its anti-peace stance to the world; it would (result in) an increase in financial damage and casualties to its forces.”

Afghan President Ghani has been opposed to the US-Taliban deal negotiated in Qatar by the US special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, because the Afghan government had been excluded from the talks, and the agreement reportedly gave no guarantees on the holding of this month’s election or the survival of the Kabul government. Nor did it commit the Taliban to talking directly to Ghani or his ministers.

According to most accounts, the agreement was extremely limited, exchanging the offer of a US troop withdrawal for a Taliban undertaking that attacks on the US would not be launched from Afghanistan. Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, said it was up to the Taliban when talks would resume.