US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has said that any peace agreement with the Afghan Taliban would depend on the declaration of a permanent ceasefire and a commitment to end the country’s long war.
In an interview with Tolo News, Khalilzad said that the Taliban’s demands were focused on the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the country.
“Our focus is on terrorism. No agreement will be done if we don’t see a permanent ceasefire and a commitment to end the war,” said Khalilzad. “We are seeking peace and political settlement.
We want peace to give us the possibility to withdraw.”
Khalilzad arrived in Kabul on Saturday to meet President Ashraf Ghani as a part of his multi-country tour ahead of his next meeting with the Taliban in Qatar.
Before Khalilzad began his tour, the State Department said he will “press forward on negotiations with the Taliban to reach a consensus on core national security issues, and urge their participation in an inclusive intra-Afghan dialogue.”
After several rounds of talks, Khalilzad has reported that some progress towards an accord on withdrawing U.S. troops and on how the Taliban would prevent extremists from using Afghanistan to launch attacks as al Qaeda did in 2001 was made.
Khalilzad told Tolo news that he had tried in recent weeks to foster such a dialogue, adding there had been some progress “but not as much as I wanted”.
Meanwhile, president Ghani has convened a grand consultative assembly on Monday.
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The Loya Jirga, a traditional gathering of elders, religious scholars, and prominent Afghans, will see more than 3,000 people gather amid tight security for four days of discussion under a large tent in Kabul.