Taliban to hold Afghan-peace talks with US envoys in Islamabad

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The Taliban has on February 14 said it will hold a meeting with the United States representatives next week for talks aiming at Afghan peace effort in Pakistan, even as the next round of negotiations was scheduled by the end of this month in Qatar.

According to Al-Jazeera news reports, the unexpected move by the Taliban on Wednesday was followed by a statement from a US state department spokesperson that the US had “noted” the announcement but had not yet “received a formal invitation to any talks” over Afghan issue.

The development came as an effort made by the US special representative to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, who toured globe supporting peace process to end Afghanistan’s 17-year-old war.

In an official statement, the Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that his side would also be holding “comprehensive discussions about Pakistan-Afghanistan relations” with Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad. However, Islamabad had not yet confirmed any talks with the Taliban officials. The statement said talks in Doha will follow a week later on 25 February.

While Mujahid reported about the Taliban delegation’s meeting with the US delegation team, he did not specify any talks with Khalilzad.

Washington is also pushing harder for the Taliban-Afghanistan government talks, which the Taliban has so far repeatedly refused to hold or engage with, further branding Afghan as a “puppet of US”.

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