US Special Representative Khalilzad held a roundtable discussion with Afghan media on Monday.
He began with briefing about his recent talks with Taliban in Doha, Qatar-“I just arrived from Doha. I spent several days there meeting with the Taliban delegation. The meetings in Doha this time were much better than previous meetings. We made progress on vital issues in our discussions and agreed to agreements in principle on a couple of very important issues. There is a lot more work to be done before we can say we have succeeded in our efforts but I believe for the first time I can say that we have made significant progress. And this is a moment of opportunity, and I hope Afghans seize this opportunity to put political differences aside and deal with this moment positively and urgently. Seize the opportunity. We have the opportunity to avoid future tragedies, to bring the 40 years of war to an end, to a good end, and I urge everyone to rise to the occasion. I am hopeful that they will.”
On intra-Afghan talks Khalilzad expressed that “I have encouraged the Taliban to engage in direct talks with the Afghan government. It is our policy to get to intra-Afghan talks. I have conveyed the same message to the Afghan government, that I encouraged intra-Afghan talks. Afghans need to find a solution to this stalemate on intra-Afghan dialogue. The key for finding the solutions for Afghan problems is at the hands of Afghans now.”
With respect to Afghan government inclusion he clarified, “There is a false narrative that Afghans are not included. That is not true. The Afghan voice is there. We have many important issues to consider. A big concern for us is Afghan security and stability. The Afghan people are understandably concerned about their security. We are working together to get to a comprehensive ceasefire. We are working with the Afghan government, with international partners, to find implementing mechanisms to reach these goals.”
Recently, reports of formation of an interim government were doing the rounds, to which Khalilzad said, “I did not discuss an interim government with the Taliban.”
With respect to a timeline for the talks, the special envoy informed that “We are in a hurry for the sake of the Afghan people to end the violence as soon as we can. We cannot leave the situation in a state of uncertainty. We need to complete the process.”