ISLAMABAD – U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice met with Pakistani leaders during a visit to the country on Sunday to discuss efforts to revive peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban which were suspended after the announcement of the death of longtime Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.
Pakistan had hosted a previous round of direct talks in July and is believed to have influence over the insurgents.
"Ambassador Rice commended Pakistan's support for recent talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban, underscored the U.S. commitment to an Afghan-led peace process, and urged Pakistan to intensify its efforts to counter terrorist sanctuaries inside its borders in order to promote regional peace and stability," the White House said in a statement.
Rice met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif and her Pakistani counterpart Sartaj Aziz. A Pakistani army statement said Rice and Gen. Sharif "recognized the continued need for close coordination for ensuring peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region."
Aziz later told Geo News TV that the main reason for the delay in reviving talks was a leadership crisis in the Taliban after Mullah Omar's death. The longtime Taliban leader was replaced by his deputy, Mullah Akhtar Mansoor, in a process that has been criticized by Mullah Omar's family members.
"It is not clear yet who is their leader, whom to talk to," Aziz said.
Pakistani Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry said the two sides also discussed a possible American role in talks between Pakistan and India.
Rice also extended an invitation to Prime Minister Sharif to visit the White House on Oct. 22.