ISLAMABAD  -   Pakistan and the United States yesterday vowed to work together for peace in Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi met US Charge D’Affaires to Pakistan Paul W Jones to discuss the Afghanistan issue and the bilateral relations.

“During the meeting, the minister pledged that Pakistan will continue to play its reconciliatory role in the Afghan peace process as development of the entire region is linked with it,” a foreign ministry statement said.

It added: “Both the leaders also deliberated on security issues and vowed to continue efforts for the betterment of the region. They also pledged to work together in all the sectors.”

This week, US envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said the peace talks with the Taliban were entering a “new stage”.

Pakistan and Afghanistan earlier vowed to make joint efforts to promote mutual trust at the first review meeting of Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity here.

Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood held a delegation-level meeting with a team from Afghanistan led by Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Idrees Zaman.

The two sides exchanged views on cooperation in politics, diplomacy, defence, intelligence and Afghan refugees and agreed to strengthen it further, an official statement said. It added that they also reviewed the progress made in the matters decided between the two countries.

The APAPPS was established in 2018 with the aim to promote bilateral cooperation in different sectors under a comprehensive and institutional framework.

The mechanism works through five Working Groups namely: Politico-Diplomatic; Military-to-Military Coordination; Intelligence Cooperation; Economic and Refugees. The inaugural session of APAPPS was held in Kabul on July 22, 2018, where the two sides had agreed to synergise efforts to enhance bilateral cooperation and build trust.

Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted: “Good meeting w/ Pres @AshrafGhani and his team. Discussed building further intl (international) consensus for #peace. Also regional requirements & implications for peace including recent positive movement in AfPak (Afghanistan-Pakistan) relations & opportunities peace will provide for regional connectivity & development.”

Afghanistan president’s office said the US envoy presented a briefing about his latest shuttle diplomacy for peace that took him to Europe as well as Pakistan.

“Both sides expressed pleasure over the role of Germany in this regard (intra-Afghan dialogue for peace) and expressed hope to initiate the first round of intra-Afghan dialogue at the earliest,” it said. The US envoy has so far held at least six rounds of talks with the Taliban since taking charge in September last year, but the Taliban continue to refuse pressing demands for ceasefire in Afghanistan.

This month, Pakistan and the US – at a two-way delegation level consultative meeting here - agreed to move forward together to achieve peace in Afghanistan.

The US delegation was led by Zalmay Khalilzad while Additional Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs Aftab Khokhar headed the Pakistani side. The US delegation comprised representatives of Defence and State departments while senior officials from ministries of defence and foreign affairs participated for Pakistan.

Earlier, Zalmay Khalilzad held meetings with Pakistani leaders during his two-week peace mission to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Belgium, Germany, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to end the long-running Afghan war.

Regarding the meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the sidelines of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation summit in Makkah, Khalilzad, said: “It will improve relations between the two countries.”

Prime Minister Imran Khan meanwhile was in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan yesterday to attend the 19th meeting of the Council of the Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization – expected to discuss the regional issues including Afghanistan.

Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Special Assistant to PM on Youth Affairs Mohammed Usman Dar are accompanying the Prime Minister.