Zalmay Khalilzad, an Afghan-born former U.S. ambassador to Kabul and Iraq, was appointed in September to the U.S. State Department team that is leading the reconciliation effort and peace talks with the Taliban.
“The U.S. wants to have a role in peace talks but the main focus is it should be an Afghan-led peace negotiation. The U.S. State Department, Pentagon, and the White House are involved in this mission,” Khalilzad said.
The U.S. State Department had earlier said Khalilzad would coordinate and lead U.S. efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.
It said he would lead an interagency delegation to Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia from October 4-14.
The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation met with Afghan leaders including President Ashraf Ghani today in Kabul and was set to hold talks with senior ministers and top diplomats during the day.
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah today at the Ministerial Council session welcomed U.S. efforts for Afghanistan peace process.
“We welcome the US’s focus on peace and we are hopeful that the other side also uses this opportunity and make a step closer towards peace,” Abdullah said.
Many Afghans are optimistic over the peace talks with the opposition groups and urge the Taliban to participate in the negotiation table for reconciliation.
“The only way for the survival of the Taliban is the peace process. We stress that the talks should be an Afghan-led process and consider all Afghan principles,” Chaman Shah Etimadi, a Member of Parliament added.
It comes as the Taliban has repeatedly rejected offers to hold peace talks with the Afghan government or support the elections set for October 20.