US and Afghan to hold bilateral talks minus Pak

Washington: Keeping up the pressure on Pakistan to release its jailed diplomat, the US is going ahead with a key meeting on Afghanistan, sans Islamabad.

"Bilateral talks between the US and Afghanistan in the areas such as security and agriculture will be held," the Afghan Embassy spokesman Abduljalil Ghafoory said.

The meeting to be held here from February 23 to 25, was to be a trilateral affair involving top leaders from US, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Afghan delegation would be led by its Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul and is expected to include a number of other high-ranking Cabinet ministers.

"The High ranking officials of Afghanistan and the United States will combine dialogue on advancing security and agriculture with a focus on key areas of mutual cooperation, seeking to deepen links between the countries," Ghafoory said.

The Obama Administration put off the trilateral meeting as part of its freeze on high-level contacts with Pakistan to exert pressure on Islamabad to release Raymond Davis, the US government employee who has been arrested on murder charges.

There was no immediate word from US State Department on the meeting.