U.S. envoy in Kabul to speed up peace process

The U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad held discussions on Monday with a senior Afghan official in Kabul over ways to accelerate the peace process, before heading to Qatar, where negotiations with Taliban representatives are ongoing.

U.S.-brokered peace talks between the Afghan government and the militant group began in September but progress has slowed and violence has risen, while there is also uncertainty over whether international forces will pull out troops by May as originally planned.

The State Department said on Sunday that Mr. Khalilzad and his team were visiting Kabul and Qatar. It said the U.S. diplomats would also visit other regional capitals as part of a mission aimed at working toward “a just and durable political settlement and permanent and comprehensive ceasefire”.

It did not provide dates or other details of where they intended to go, though Pakistan is a neighbour with keen interest in how the Afghan conflict plays out.

On Monday, Mr. Khalilzad discussed the peace process with Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation.

“Development of the peace process, accelerating the process and the assessment of the Doha peace agreement by the U.S. new administration were main topics of the discussion,” said Fraidoon Khwazoon, a spokesman for Mr. Abdullah.

President Joe Biden’s administration is conducting a review of a February 2020 deal struck between the Trump administration and the Taliban to determine whether to stick by a deadline to withdraw the remaining 2,500 U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and end America’s longest war.

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Printable version | Apr 18, 2021 5:56:51 AM |

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