Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Khalilzad Meets Taliban In Qatar

Qatar has served as a meeting location for US-Taliban discussions since 2011 though its Khalilzad's first try at negotiations as special envoy US envoy for Afghan peace Khalilzad meets Taliban officials in Qatar: WSJ
Jeannette Daniel | 14 October, 2018, 02:17

Washington's newly named point man for Afghan peacemaking met Taliban representatives in the Gulf nation of Qatar on Friday, a person familiar with the gathering said, as the Trump administration stepped up efforts to cobble together a road map for talks aimed at ending the 17-year war in Afghanistan.

The State Department declined to say whether the meeting with Taliban officials in Doha took place. But it was the second time in four months that US officials have met face-to-face there.

Khalilzad's 11-day trip has included meetings with officials in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

Neither side would go on the record to confirm that meeting, but there has been speculation since then that more talks were planned.

"I think any time we're there on the ground we're making headway", State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters on Thursday when asked whether Khalilzad was making any progress in the Afghan peace talks. Khalilzad said the United States will continue its efforts with the Afghan peace process alongside the leadership of the Afghan government, the statement said.

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The group has long called for bilateral talks with the United States, but Washington has repeatedly refused, insisting the process must be Afghan-led. The Taliban offered no details on the talks and the US Embassy in Kabul said only that Khalilzad was in the Afghan capital Saturday meeting with President Ashraf Ghani and chief executive Abdullah Abdullah.

"Both sides spoke (about) an end to the occupation and peaceful solution to the Afghan issue".

In July, Alice Wells, the US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs met with Taliban officials to discuss ways to lay the groundwork for peace talks.

A USA -led global coalition ousted the Taliban from power in 2001 for harboring al-Qaida leaders who allegedly plotted the September 11 attacks on American cities that year. Taliban officials want the withdrawal of American forces and a government in Kabul that reflects the group's view. The Taliban now controls or contest almost half of Afghanistan and it continues to inflict heavy casualties on Afghan security forces, bringing more territory under its control.

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