US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad On Afghanistan To Visit India

Pauline Gross
January 10, 2019

The statement said that Mr Khalilzad will continue to coordinate his efforts with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and other Afghan stakeholders to ensure an intra-Afghan peace process. It has cost Washington almost $1 trillion and killed tens of thousands of people.

"Both sides have agreed to not meet in Qatar", he added.

When asked about a possible withdrawal of a "significant" number of USA troops from Afghanistan, Zarif said Iran believes the presence of United States forces has not helped security and stability in Afghanistan.

The talks will be the fourth in a series between Taliban leaders and United States special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad.

A close aide to Ghani said the government was ready to meet the Taliban "anywhere and any time".

On Sunday, Reuters learned from its Taliban sources that the group requested to change the venue of the planned talks with the United States from Saudi Arabia to Qatar over Riyadh's push to include the Afghan government in the negotiations.

The U.S. ambassador to Kabul, John Bass, tweeted that reports of U.S. -Taliban talks on Wednesday were "inaccurate" and added: "Taliban should talk to fellow Afghans as much as they talk to media".

Reuters learned from its Taliban sources that the United States refused the terrorist group's demand that American authorities liberate 25,000 prisoners in exchange for 3,000 hostages allegedly held by the jihadi organization.

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In July, Iranian authorities said Tehran had rejected eight USA requests for a meeting between Trump and President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in Sept 2017.

"We would never announce any ceasefire until and unless we achieve major gains on the ground".

The Taliban have so far refused direct talks with the Kabul government which they see as an illegitimate, foreign-appointed regime, and consider their main adversary to be the USA, which invaded the country in 2001 and toppled their rule.

There are indications that Pakistan is pushing the Taliban to enter into direct talks with the Kabul government to resolve a long-standing conflict in Afghanistan, Arab News quoted head of Afghanistan's High Peace Council as saying on Wednesday. "We have the feeling that Zalmay Khalilzad doesn't have enough power to make important decisions", another Taliban official said. We had contacts with the Taliban because they control some bordering areas.

Afghanistan's presidential envoy, Dr Umer Daudzai, who reached Islamabad on Tuesday on a three-day visit, met Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and conveyed the message to Imran Khan. As peace talks gain momentum a draft agreement drawn up by the influential United States think tank RAND Corporation outlining the clauses for a potential peace deal has been circulated among Afghan officials and diplomats in Kabul. Pakistan denies the claim.

The US still keeps around 14,000 troops there as part of a NATO-led mission aiding Afghan security forces and hunting militants. "But if that leadership of the Afghan state is not recognized and is not given value, then we may face a serious challenge", he added.

The document, reviewed by Reuters, suggests that the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation withdraw their military missions in phases over an expected period of 18 months.

The United States sent troops to Afghanistan in the wake of the September 11, 2001, attacks on NY and Washington.

Other reports by GizPress

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