U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan Khalilzad holds talks with Jaishankar, Doval

U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan Khalilzad holds talks with Jaishankar, Doval”

The formal negotiations between the Afghan Government and the Taliban have begun on Monday. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla was also present during the talks.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cautioned Tuesday that ongoing peace negotiations over the future of Afghanistan will be a "difficult" process but will help reduce the cost of war and risk to America. He briefed about the United States assessment of IAN and shared the U.S. perspective on the Afghan peace process.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan conciliation Zalmay Khalilzad.

Signalling a carefully calibrated shift in its position on engaging with the Taliban, India had participated in the commencement ceremony of intra-Afghan talks between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban - the Intra-Afghan Negotiations (IAN) - in Doha on Saturday. India's main worries remain about Pakistan and China's influence in Afghanistan and that the country should not be used to push terrorism activities in India.

A comprehensive peace deal could take years, and will depend on the willingness of both sides to tailor their competing visions for Afghanistan and the extent to which they can agree to share power. The US embassy said Khalilzad discussed the recently inaugurated Afghan peace negotiations. It condemned "in the strongest terms" all militant activity and attacks, and reaffirmed the importance of ensuring that Afghan territory is not used by "terrorist organisations" such as ISIS and Al Qaeda "to threaten or attack any other country". The US said Ambassador Khalilzad stressed that regional and worldwide support is critical for the success of the negotiations and the implementation of any agreement, adding that India and the US will work together in support of this objective.

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The head of the peace process for the Afghan government, Abdullah Abdullah, suggested that the Taliban could offer a ceasefire in exchange for the release of jailed fighters.

There have been apprehensions in India over the possibility of use of Afghan soil for anti-India activities if a new dispensation that is friendly to Pakistan emerges from the intra-Afghan negotiations.

Raihana Hashemi, 28, whose sister was killed in a separate 2018 incident in which protesters were shot near a school, said that around two months ago she and other families had created a "National War Victims Network" to elevate concerns they were being forgotten during the peace process.

Sources said, today's discussions are a reflection of the India-US strategic partnership which provides for close consultations between the two countries on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.

The two sides are in the early stages of meetings in Doha as they try to hammer out a deal that would bring 19 years of bloodshed. The US has lost over 2,400 soldiers in Afghanistan since late 2001. Apart from the US, Afghanistan, the Taliban, and Qatar which is hosting the talks, the discussions over the weekend were also attended by representatives from India, Pakistan, Russia, Germany, Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Norway, and the United Nations. India has also been maintaining that care should be taken to ensure that any such process does not lead to any "ungoverned spaces" where terrorists and their proxies can relocate.

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