Afghan Peace Process : Taliban, US envoy Khalilzad meet first time since ‘dead’ peace talks, vow to break deadlock

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Islamabad, Oct 7: The visiting Taliban delegation met Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for Afghan reconciliation, in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, for the first time since President Donald Trump withdrew from the Afghan Peace Process.

A senior Pakistan’s foreign ministry official, speaking on a condition of anonymity, said “at least one meeting” between Khalilzad and the Taliban delegation led by deputy chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, “to discuss different ways to resume the talks”.

“The two sides haven’t reached any decision. The deadlock is still there, but both [sides] have vowed to break the deadlock,” the official told Anadolu Agency, but did not offer further details of the meeting.

The official added “another meeting is expected in a day or two after both sides complete their homework on different formulas discussed in the first meeting” on Friday.

He asserted both sides had put forth fresh demands, with the US demanding a complete ceasefire in the region, as well as, the inclusion of the Afghanistan government –  a move that Taliban reiterated its refusal.

For its part, the Taliban said it had sought a “guarantee from the highest level” in the US over the implementation of outcomes of the recent meeting.

“The Taliban have refused to accept the two U.S. demands, and want the process to be resumed from right where it broke off,” he said, “while Washington wants a fresh start, particularly with respect to its two demands.”

On September 9, Trump abruptly declared peace talks with the Taliban “dead”, citing recent terror attacks in Kabul which claimed the lives of a dozen individuals, including US service members.

The Taliban delegation, who arrived in Islamabad on Wednesday, held high-level dialogues with Pakistan officials, including foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in efforts to restore the scrapped Afghan Peace Process.

The Pakistan foreign minister expressed hope both sides – the United States and the Taliban, would resume the peace talks soon and that peace and stability can be reached and further maintained in the region.

 

 

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