Srinagar: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is likely to meet Afghan Taliban representatives during his visit to Pakistan starting on Sunday, a media report quoting Pakistan government sources said.
Pakistan has been playing an increasingly vital role in the Afghanistan peace talks, which have been gathering momentum in recent months amid a growing US desire to pull out its troops from the war-torn country, Daily Times reported.
Along with other Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia has been part of the peace negotiations and is seen to have some sway over the Afghan Taliban militants due to Riyadh’s historical ties with the group and the kingdom’s religious clout as the birthplace of Islam.
Two senior Pakistani officials said the crown prince was likely to meet Afghan Taliban representatives in Islamabad, where the militants, fighting to restore Islamic rule in Afghanistan after their 2001 ouster, say they are due to meet US representatives and Prime Minister Imran Khan, the media report said.
“Though it is top secret so far, there are strong indications that representatives of the Afghan Taliban will meet Prince Salman during their visit of Pakistan on February 18,” one of the officials in Islamabad said.
A senior Taliban leader in Qatar said no decision had been made on whether they would meet the crown prince. “Actually meeting Prince Salman is not in the plan so far but we can discuss it when we are in Islamabad,” said the Taliban representative. Pakistan’s Foreign Office and Saudi Arabia’s government did not respond to a request for comment.
The crown prince is expected to leave Pakistan on Monday after signing a raft of investment agreements in the energy sector for more than $10 billion.