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Khalilzad meets gov’t, Taliban negotiating teams to speed up peace process: US official

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(Last Updated On: April 2, 2021)

The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, met with the Islamic Republic and Taliban negotiating teams in Doha this week to “push for further progress in negotiations and a reduction in violence.”

Briefing the reporters on Thursday, US State Department spokesman Ned Price stated that Khalilzad would also meet with a number of foreign countries to see how best to accelerate the peace process.

“He’s also meeting with other international partners to explore how the international community can best help the two negotiating sides accelerate the peace process,” Price said.

Price stated that Khalilzad recently visited Turkey and discussed the upcoming Istanbul summit on the Afghan peace process with Turkish officials.

“Building on recent international gatherings in support of the peace process, the Istanbul conference is meant to help Afghan negotiators make progress in their negotiations and will complement peace talks currently ongoing in Doha,” Price noted.

Price added that Khalilzad and Turkish officials have agreed that “an Afghan-led, Afghan-owned gathering supported by high-level attendance from the international community provides the best means to accelerate that peace process. “

“They also agreed to urge the Afghan parties to prepare for constructive participation in that conference,” the US official said.

Khalilzad met with Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, Head of the Negotiation Team of the I. R. of Afghanistan, and other members of the negotiation team on Wednesday.

“The meeting focused on the acceleration of the ongoing peace negotiations and the upcoming Turkey Conference on Afghanistan,” the Republic team tweeted.

Khalilzad also met with senior Taliban leaders on Wednesday in Doha to discuss provisions of the US-Taliban agreement signed in Doha last year.

Specific topics discussed included the release of the remaining Taliban prisoners, the removal of the Taliban’s name from the UN Blacklist, the withdrawal of the US and foreign forces from Afghanistan, as well as other related issues, said the Taliban’s spokesman Mohammad Naeem.

“The full implementation of all articles in the Doha agreement was discussed, and both sides emphasized their commitment to the agreement,” Naeem tweeted.

Despite countless meetings between US and NATO officials, and meetings with Afghan leaders, the US has still not stated whether it will withdraw its troops by the May 1 deadline.

The Taliban has however remained firm in its conviction that troops exit by May 1.

Last week US President Joe Biden said while it would be possible to withdraw troops to meet the deadline it would “be tough” to do so.

He also said that should troop remain post-May 1, he did not envision it being for long.

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