Khalilzad returns to region to jump-start Afghan peace talks

Updated November 10, 2018

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US special envoy for peace in Af­­g­hanistan Zalmay Khalilzad. —AP/File photo
US special envoy for peace in Af­­g­hanistan Zalmay Khalilzad. —AP/File photo

WASHINGTON: The United States is once again sending its special representative, Zalmay Khalilzad, to Pakistan and Afghanistan to advance the goal of an intra-Afghan dialogue, the State Department announced on Friday.

Mr Khalilzad, who will also visit the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, is coming with an inter-agency delegation on his third trip to the region in less than two months.

He will stay in the region from Nov 8 to 20 and will meet Afghan government officials and other interested parties to “advance the goal of an intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations that include the Taliban and lead to a sustainable peace,” the State Department said.

The statement, issued by the office of the State Department’s spokesperson, notes that “a sustainable peace requires that all Afghans have a say in their country’s future.”

On his last trip to the region in October, Ambassador Khalilzad called on the Afghan government and the Taliban to organise authoritative negotiating teams, and “has been encouraged to see that both parties are taking steps in that direction,” the statement added.

The State Department said that the United States “remains committed to a political settlement that results in an end to the war and to the terrorist threat posed to the United States and the world.”

The statement reminded other regional actors that “a peaceful Afghanistan can play a catalytic role in regional trade and development.”

The United States announced on Wednesday that it’s sending an observer to an Afghan peace conference that began in Moscow on Friday but it will send a high-level delegation to another Afghan conference in Geneva later this month.

Washington is sending Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Alice Wells to Geneva to prepare for this ministerial conference on Afghanistan, on Nov 27 and 28.

The US hopes that 60 nations will attend this conference to express their support for Washington’s efforts to jump start the Afghan peace process.

Published in Dawn, November 10th, 2018