The U.S. Special Envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad on Friday said that he hopes a peace agreement could be reached with the Taliban before Afghanistan’s presidential election which is scheduled to be held in July.
Addressing at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, Khalilzad said that this is an effort to also bring the Taliban in the election process as ‘peace agreement’ ensures a ‘peaceful election.’
Khalilzad said Afghanistan’s next election makes reaching peace agreements ‘complicated’ but he said it would be better for the country if a ‘peace agreement’ could be reached before the election.
“My overall goal is, at the direction of the president and the secretary of state, not to seek a withdrawal agreement but a peace agreement,” Khalilzad said.
The envoy stressed that they are in the early stage of a “protracted process” and that they still have a long way to go.
“After many conversations, we have reached an agreement in principle with the Taliban on a framework that would provide guarantees and an enforcement mechanism that no terrorist group…international terrorist group or individual– would be able to use Afghanistan” as a platform for international terrorism,” Khalilzad noted.
The diplomat also said that more talks are planned to “flesh out” the Taliban’s commitments. “Nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to,” he stressed.
On Tuesday, last week, Russia hosted a two-day meeting between the Taliban and Afghan oppositions in its capital, Moscow in which the delegates attending the talks issued a joint declaration as a move to promote intra-Afghan dialogue to end the nearly two decades of war in Afghanistan.
In reaction to the meeting, Khalilzad said that the U.S. welcomes any effort that could facilitate the Afghan peace process and that put an end to the ongoing conflict in the war-weary country.