• Friday, Jul 10, 2020
  • Last Update : 12:41 pm

US envoy to press Taliban, Afghan officials on peace talks

  • Published at 02:33 pm May 19th, 2020
AFghanistan-Taliban
File Photo: Members of Afghan delegations gather during the second day of the Intra Afghan Dialogue talks in the Qatari capital Doha on July 8, 2019 AFP

The three main impediments to the start of intra-Afghan negotiations, which were to begin March 10, have been a rise in violence

A senior US envoy left for Doha and Kabul on Sunday to press Taliban and Afghan government officials to open peace talks that the United States hopes will allow it to withdraw from Afghanistan, the US State Department said.

The US special representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, left one day after Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah signed a power-sharing deal that could help lead to peace talks to end the country's long-running war.

The three main impediments to the start of intra-Afghan negotiations, which were to begin March 10, have been a rise in violence, the pace of prisoner releases and the failure of Ghani and Abdullah to resolve a power struggle.

While in Doha, Khalilzad will meet with Taliban officials to discuss carrying out a Feb. 29 US-Taliban agreement that called for prisoner releases by both sides and to "press for steps necessary to commence intra-Afghan negotiations, including a significant reduction of violence," the State Department said.

In Kabul, Khalilzad will meet with senior government officials "to explore steps the Afghan government needs to take to make intra-Afghan negotiations begin as soon as possible," it added.

The key provisions of the Feb. 29 agreement - to which the Afghan government was not a party - involved a US commitment to reduce its presence in Afghanistan to 8,600 troops by mid-July and, conditions permitting, to zero by May 2021.

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