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U.S. envoy in Taleban talks seeks peace deal before July vote

U.S. envoy in Taleban talks seeks peace deal before July vote”

Instead of withdrawing upon reaching a peace deal, the condition the Taliban are seeking, Khalilzad indicated that the U.S. would only leave if "there is no threat to our national security from Afghanistan".

Pakistan's role in the peace negotiations is a delicate one, with Islamabad seeking to avoid demonstrating the kind of broad influence over the Taliban that Washington has long accused it of having.

US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad held six days of talks - perhaps the most productive to date - with the Taliban in Doha last month and is due to meet Taliban representatives again on February 25.

The Taliban and a number of Afghan officials, excluding the Kabul government, held a two-day conference in Moscow earlier this week.

He insisted that the Taliban are holding talks with the United States "on their own initiative".

"My overall goal is, at the direction of the president and the secretary of state, not to seek a withdrawal agreement but a peace agreement", he said.

He said that talks between two opposing powers are meant to achieve a mutual resolution to outstanding issues and the re-establishment of peace and stability. Karzai also dismissed USA claims about providing security for Afghanistan.

"It will be better for Afghanistan if we could get a peace agreement before the election, which is scheduled in July", Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, said, adding that there remained "a lot of work" to do.

He also suggested that he didn't believe anything that the Taliban has said, insisting that the USA "do not trust the words of any of the protagonists" in Afghanistan.

A former USA ambassador to Afghanistan who is now special envoy in the talks, Khalilzad has, in recent months, held meetings with Taliban officials in Qatar, where the group's senior leaders have an office in the capital Doha.

"There is an election, I know, that makes reaching a peace agreement particularly complicated".

The military strategy, devised by General Austin Miller, the current commander of the American-led mission in Afghanistan, is similar to past attempts to bleed the militant group, the report said. "We have already realized that it is just impossible", he told Sputnik.

The Afghans, he asserted, must sit across the table with each other and come to an agreement about their future of their country.

In his annual State of the Union speech on Tuesday, Trump said the time has come "to at least try for peace". "It will take time for the Taliban to appreciate that, but the message they have given to me is that they understand that they can not go back".

Trump has repeatedly spoken about the need for troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, where it has been bogged down in a conflict with the Taliban and other groups since late 2001.

While the USA talks with the Taliban have focused on troop presence and assurances that terrorist networks would not be given haven, Khalilzad said intra-Afghan talks could also deal with human rights, freedom of the press and the role of women, who were harshly oppressed under Taliban rule.

"We first and foremost have to put an end to the occupation and then focus on resolving our internal issues".



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