In his latest thread of visits, the US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad met with the Taliban representatives and Afghan authorities respectively in Doha, and Kabul aimed to discuss the starting of the Intra-Afghan negotiations in no time.
In Doha, he said he had held 3 constructive meeting s with Mullah Baradar and members of the Taliban Political Commission in Doha, Qatar, and that he had emphasized the US-Taliban agreement is inter-connected – counter-terrorism commitments, Intra-Afghan negotiations, troop withdrawal, and gradual violence reduction leading to a permanent ceasefire.
“I also raised missing Americans Mark Frerichs and Paul Overby as well as our concerns about recent Taliban attacks in Kunduz, Ghazni, & Khost. We discussed their concerns with President Ghani’s ordering offensive attacks,” he said.
According to him, he has underlined the reduction in violence to the Taliban representatives, noting that it must fall by all sides. “Innocent Afghans have borne far too much and for too long the costs of this war,” he wrote.
He writes that the Taliban also expressed their commitment to the agreement and its implementation, adding, “They said they would do all they could to locate our citizens. They will consult their leadership in the next step.”
Confirming the events, the Taliban Political Commission Spokesperson Suhail Shaheen tweeted that they “talked in detail about the acceleration of the peace process.”
Quoting Mullah Baradar, he wrote, “Solution of the Afghan issue lies in the complete implementation of the Agreement. Other mechanisms rather than the Agreement, means creating hurdles in the way of peace. Even now, the peace process has been harmed. Any further delay in its implementation will further harm the process.”
In Kabul, Khalilzad met with the newly reconciled political couple, President Ghani and Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, Abdullah.
He wrote, “We discussed the next steps required to implement the agreement between the 2 leaders. On peace, we agreed that violence is much too high and there is a need to move urgently to reduce it by all sides.
“We also agreed on the importance of delivering (and soon) on other commitments made in the US-Taliban agreement and US-Afghanistan joint declaration including the release of prisoners by both sides and the start of Intra-Afghan negotiations.
It is noteworthy that in the meantime, neighboring China, Russia, and Iran have also emphasized the need to commence the Intra-Afghan negotiations.
They have said that they hoped that the Intra-Afghan negotiations begin as soon possible, noting that they can play a constructive role in strengthening the peace process.