ISLAMABAD  -   The United States has asked Pakistan and Afghanistan to remove each other’s misunderstandings through high-level meetings, officials said.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that a top-level meeting between Pakistan and Afghanistan was expected soon.

“We are in contact (with Afghanistan) for a meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and (Afghanistan) President Ashraf Ghani. This (meeting) could take place soon,” said one official.

He said Pakistan had never run away from talks be it with Afghanistan or India. “In fact we have always been advocating the dialogue process,” he added.

Another official said Prime Minister Imran Khan had already invited President Ghani to visit Pakistan. “The visit is under consideration. The meeting can take place in either country,” he maintained.

Over the weekend, Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to make efforts for availing their geographic locations to enhance regional connectivity.

President Ghani telephoned Prime Minister Khan wherein they “discussed bilateral ties and agreed to realise the true economic potential of the two countries for socio-economic development, poverty alleviation and welfare of the two peoples,” said an official statement.

The two leaders exchanged views on matters relating to peace, security and prosperity in Afghanistan and the region, it said.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said the spirit of brotherhood defined Pakistan’s approach towards Afghanistan. He said the prolonged conflict had damaged Afghanistan and adversely affected Pakistan over the past many decades.

He stressed that for the sake of the two peoples, the aim of the leadership should be to help build peace, promote economic progress and advance connectivity for regional prosperity.

The Prime Minister reiterated his vision for finding a peaceful solution in Afghanistan, fully owned and led by the Afghans themselves.

Recently, Pakistan arranged ‘result-oriented’ US-Afghan Taliban dialogue in Qatar. The Afghan Taliban however, refused to meet the representatives of the Afghan government. Pakistan and the US are also hoping to finalise the settlement of the Afghanistan issue when their top leaders, Imran Khan and Donald Trump, possibly meet in the near future.

Earlier, US President Donald Trump wrote a letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan seeking Islamabad’s support in securing a “negotiated settlement” to the war in Afghanistan.

This came as Washington stepped up efforts to hold peace talks with the Taliban, more than 17 years after the invasion of Afghanistan. In his letter, Trump said a settlement is “his most important regional priority”, the Pakistani foreign ministry stated. “In this regard, he has sought Pakistan’s support and facilitation”, it added.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s special peace envoy Mohammed Omer Daudzai said the war that had ravaged Afghanistan for more than 17 years and cost the United States about $ 1 trillion will end this year.

Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been pressing the Taliban to engage Afghan government in the talks. Daudzai said Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ‘heart and mind is in the right place. We are hopeful. We have received all the right signals.’

Lately, however, Pakistan and Afghanistan had engaged in a new verbal war as Afghan President Ghani issued a controversial statement on Pakistan’s internal matters – regarding protests by Pashtun Tahafuz Movement. In response, Pakistan urged Afghanistan’s leadership to pay attention to the issues of their own country rather than making statements against others.

US special envoy on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has expressed the hope that the Afghan Taliban and the US could reach a peace agreement before the Afghanistan’s presidential elections slated to be held on July 20.

But he pointed out that these were just a few steps in the direction of peaceful resolution of the conflict in Afghanistan and that they have a ‘long way to go.’

“It would be better for Afghanistan if we could get a peace agreement before the election. If there is no progress on the peace track, elections will take place, and we are doing what we can to support the preparations for credible elections,” said Khalilzad.

Latest reports said US-Taliban talks had been bogged down over the key issue of when foreign forces would leave Afghanistan.

Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban’s political spokesperson in Doha, said the two sides were trying “to narrow the differences and have an agreement on a timetable which is acceptable to both sides. “That has not been achieved so far.”