ISLAMABAD - The United States has lauded Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa’s role in achieving Afghan peace.

In a meeting with Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad discussed steps required for the start of intra-Afghan negotiations.

The two took note of recent progress created by the Eid ceasefire and accelerated prisoner releases as well as reduced violence ahead of the intra-Afghan negotiations.

A US Embassy statement said that “Ambassador Khalilzad expressed his appreciation for the role Prime Minister Imran Khan and General Bajwa are playing in support of peace in Afghanistan.”

It said the two agreed peace in Afghanistan offers an unprecedented opportunity to advance security, connectivity and development for the region.

Pakistan and the US are optimistic about the resolution of the Afghanistan issue after arch rivals Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah signed a power-sharing deal.

Under the deal, Ghani will stay on as president while both leaders will choose an equal number of ministers. Abdullah will lead peace talks with the Taliban.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, his US counterpart Mike Pompeo and US special envoy on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad have shown optimism that this deal will pave way for peace in the war-torn country. “The outline for this compromise has been in place for 10 weeks. We welcome the compromise and wish the new government success,” he said. The US, he said, “is prepared to partner with the new government in a peace process that ends the war. That process must be based on timely implementation of commitments made to date. Both leaders should not repeat mistakes in governing that existed under the NUG (National Unity Government), as Afghans negotiated this government.”

It is high time, he said, “to take seriously the resolve of the Afghan people, and the world, to finally see an end to this conflict. Dr. Abdullah must move forward with full speed and urgency, and be sincerely supported therein by the current Afghan government.”In April, the Taliban walked out of the talks, saying any face-to-face discussions with the Afghan government had proved “fruitless.”

The talks reportedly broke down over a prisoner swap agreed earlier between the US and Taliban. It was meant to be a step towards ending the war, but the Taliban say Afghan officials are trying to delay the release, while officials say the militants’ demands are unreasonable.