U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Kabul on Wednesday to meet Afghan president Ashraf Ghani to discuss ways of resuming peace talks, Reuters reported citing an Afghan government official.
Khalilzad’s trip comes days after U.S. President Donald Trump’s surprise Thanksgiving visit to U.S. forces at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan where he met President Ghani and announced that peace talks have restarted with the militant group.
The Afghan government, however, says it is ready for resuming the talks, but only if it is given a seat at the table and the Taliban agrees to a ceasefire.
“In Kabul, Special Representative Khalilzad will meet with Afghan government representatives and other Afghan leaders to follow up on President Trump’s recent visit and to discuss how best to support accelerated efforts to get all parties to intra-Afghan negotiations,” the US Department of State said in a statement.
In Doha, Ambassador Khalilzad will rejoin talks with the Taliban to discuss steps that could lead to intra-Afghan negotiations and a peaceful settlement of the war, specifically a reduction in violence that leads to a ceasefire.
“The U.S. and Afghan presidents agreed on the resumption of peace negotiations but with close participation and coordination with the Afghan government,” the official told Reuters.
“Our precondition is a reduction of violence leading to a ceasefire, and that is what U.S. want too.”
If talks are resumed, the source added that Khalilzad’s previous format of holding separate negotiations with the Taliban as a preliminary step to later talks between Afghan participants in the conflict cannot be repeated.