US discuss Afghanistan peace process with Russia, China, EU officials

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KABUL (TCA) — U.S. officials have “exchanged views” with representatives of Russia and China on the current status of the Afghan peace process, RFE/RL reports with reference to the State Department.

In a statement on March 22, the department said representatives met in Washington on March 21-22 and “discussed common efforts to bring peace, prosperity, and security to Afghanistan.”

“They underscored their respect for the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Afghanistan, as well as Afghanistan’s right to make its own political, security, and economic decisions,” the statement added.

It said the three countries agreed to hold further discussions on the issue and that the exact dates and sites for such talks are to be decided.

The statement did not list which officials were involved in the discussions, although on March 20, the State Department announced that the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, would meet with officials from Russia and China on the matter.

That statement said Zamir Kabulov, Russia’s presidential envoy to Afghanistan; Deng Xijun, his Chinese counterpart; and Roland Kobia, the EU’s special envoy, would be part of the briefing.

Russian state-run TASS news agency said Kabulov attended the talks in Washington.

And, simultaneously but separately, the State Department said Khalilzad had held consultations with Kobia, although it was not clear if the talks were together with the other diplomats or bilateral.

Khalilzad and Kobia “agreed that bringing an end to Afghanistan’s war and achieving peace must be the key objective, and that violence should cease,” the statement said.

“Both sides underscored their respect for the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Afghanistan,” it said, adding that the United States and EU “encourage all countries to support the current peace process, inclusive intra-Afghan talks, and lasting development and reconstruction in Afghanistan.”

Khalilzad has held several rounds of peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar, but the Western-backed government in Kabul has been absent from the negotiations, with the militant group insisting it will not engage with a Western “puppet.”

Sergey Kwan

TCA