US Afghan envoy Zalmay Khalilzad wants peace deal before July vote

Evarado Alatorre
Febrero 11, 2019

"We are forced to wage war".

Last year, the United States dropped more than 7,000 bombs, missiles and other munitions on extremists in Afghanistan - up from 2,365 in 2014, the Times said, citing military data.

The United States (US) diplomat leading talks with the Taleban said on Friday he hoped to see a peace deal in place before Afghanistan's July presidential elections, though he cautioned he did not trust America's long-time adversary.

"It will be better for Afghanistan if we could get a peace agreement before the election, which is scheduled in July", Khalilzad said, adding that there remained "a lot of work" to do. "The Taliban have committed, to our satisfaction, to do what is necessary that would prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a platform for global terrorist groups or individuals".

He said an American withdrawal from Afghanistan was not the main aim of the talks, but to bring an end to the country's 17-year war.

Reports, however, said four members of the Taliban who appeared in Moscow are blacklisted by the UN.

And this can not be achieved without the help of regional players, in particular Pakistan, Special US Representative Zalmay Khalilzad said in his maiden public appearance before a Washington audience some six months after he was entrusted with this task by the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

One of the most notable public signs of Pakistan's willingness to aid the negotiations was the release of Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. We would be helpful and be watchful, he said. This has always been our own initiative and policy.

The Times said the Taliban had complained about the increase in airstrikes and raids.

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Mr Bhutto-Zardari addressed this issue at a meeting with Washington-based Pakistani journalists as well, urging Islamabad to be ready to deal with both positive and negative consequences of a U.S. withdrawal.

"We're willing to help them agree on this", Kabulov said.

He also said a new constitution will be drafted and "implemented in light of the teachings of (the) Shariah".

They "called for the protection of freedom of speech in line with Islamic principles, and to undertake efforts to attract worldwide assistance for the reconstruction of Afghanistan's infrastructure".

Khalilzad said that he has talked to all the neighbours of Afghanistan, perhaps the exception of one or two, but they have not yet agreed on a formal framework for regional participation.

The meeting came after two days of talks between prominent Afghan figures and Taliban representatives in Moscow. "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. "This process does not mean [a] partnership with anyone", he said. He added that more talks are planned to "flesh out" the Taliban's commitments.

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

The US special envoy to Afghanistan on Thursday denied Taliban claims of a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops.

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