Afghanistan: US envoy calls on Kabul, Taliban to form negotiating teams

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KABUL (TCA) — US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad on October 8 called on the Taliban to come up with an authorized team of negotiators for peace talks, Afghan broadcaster TOLOnews reported.

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.

On October 8, Khalilzad also called on the Afghan government to form its own team of inclusive and authorized representatives for the peace process.

Khalilzad made the call during a meeting in Kabul, which was attended by a select group of Afghan journalists.

The special envoy was in Kabul as part of his 10-day visit to Kabul, Islamabad, Doha, United Arab Emirates and Riyadh.

The ambassador has not revealed many details of his schedule or agenda but did say on Sunday, shortly after arriving in Afghanistan, that he was here to break the stalemate around the war and help broker peace.

Addressing the meeting on Monday, Khalilzad said he was leading an inclusive team from the US government, involving members of the State department, Pentagon, the White House and other security agencies.

Despite this, he emphasized that the process was “ultimately an issue between the Afghans.”

“We can facilitate and be present in any format for peace talks,” he said, adding that “it’s not easy, but there is a window of opportunity (for peace).”

Late last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo officially announced the appointment of Khalilzad as Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation.

Pompeo said in a memo to staff that Khalilzad would lead US efforts to support, facilitate, and participate in a peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

“There is no one better suited for this duty than an expert diplomat like ambassador Khalilzad, who was born and raised in Afghanistan, and has previously served as the US ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, and the United Nations,” Pompeo said.

Sergey Kwan

TCA