Tolo News – Khalilzad Meets Ghani and Abdullah in advance of peace talks

The US peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, arrived in Kabul on Sunday to meet with Afghan leaders.

Kabul – Kabul Province – Afghanistan, 27 October 2019. This is the first time the US Special Envoy for Peace Zalmay Khalilzad has been in Kabul since the peace talks were halted by US President Trump in early September.

“The meeting focused on the achievement of a lasting peace in Afghanistan, and both sides called for the reduction of violence and ceasefire by the Taliban to begin inter-Afghan talks,” said CE Abdullah’s deputy spokesman Omid Maisam.

Khalilzad also met with former President Hamid Karzai and some other Afghan politicians.

The meeting focused on reaching a permanent ceasefire and concerns over delays in talks between Afghans, with the politicians calling on the US to resume talks with the Taliban.

The Afghan government has made assurances that a comprehensive delegation is prepared for the intra-Afghan talks, and considers the ceasefire to be one of the pre-conditions to start talks.

“We have consulted with political parties and with various people and the list has been made and includes individuals who will represent the Afghan people with dignity,” said President Ghani’s spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.

Sources close to the peace talks say Khalilzad’s trip is also linked to the release of two US university professors in Kabul.

“Khalilzad’s trip has two parts, one I think is about the release of US university professors that Khalilzad talked to the Taliban about, and the second is about the talks between USA and Taliban that are likely to resume in the near future,” said Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban commander.

Experts say that regional confidence-building in the peace process, and dialogue with the Afghan government over the resumption of peace talks with the Taliban, are the reasons for Khalilzad’s travel to Kabul.

“There is now serious distrust between the Taliban leadership and the USA leadership, and Mr Khalilzad’s travels to the countries involved is to restore that trust between the two sides again,” said Intazar Khadam, a peace researcher in Afghanistan.

Zalmay Khalilzad has also traveled to Belgium, France and Russia prior to his trip to Kabul, and has talked with Chinese, Russian and Pakistani representatives about the Afghan peace talks.