BRUSSELS — After meeting for more than three hours here Wednesday with Afghan and Pakistani leaders, Secretary of State John Kerry reported progress in restarting negotiations but warned, “We're not going to raise expectations or promise results that can't be delivered.”
Instead, Kerry said before boarding a plane to return to Washington, the leaders agreed to “underpromise but deliver.”
“We're all going to go home and do our homework,” he said, flanked by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, Pakistan's army chief. The trio had eaten lunch together and walked the grounds of a secluded estate outside Brussels as part of their meeting.
Karzai and Kayani, who had eyed each other warily at the beginning of the session, standing stiffly before a row of reporters, shook hands warmly at the end. Kerry promised that they would continue the dialogue in hopes of finding a way to work together on peace negotiations with the Taliban.
“We agreed we are committed to try to find stability and peace for both countries and the region,” Kerry said. “I think we're on a good track,” he added, but “results will tell the story.”
The meeting was held amid a new round of recriminations between the two governments and rising nervousness on both sides of their shared border over the fast-approaching departure of U.S. combat troops from Afghanistan.
Obama administration officials, who have long said that a negotiated settlement with the Taliban was the only way to truly end the Afghanistan war, see the window closing for negotiations and the establishment of cooperative relations between the South Asian neighbors.
Kerry called “the road forward” a “crucial transformation period.”
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