There is optimism that the peace talks may start soon between the Afghan government and the Taliban, indicated Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
“We are in a good place… we are optimistic that finally we are moving forward to the start of the intra-Afghan negotiations,” Khalilzad said while addressing a special briefing at the U.S. State Department on Monday afternoon.
The top U.S. negotiator said the Taliban ceasefire for the three day of Eid, the reduction of violence since then, the release of the Taliban and government prisoners, and the resolve on both sides to reach a political settlement, present a positive picture.
Khalilzad has been at work to find a wat forward in Afghanistan for nearly 20 months. He was instrumental in getting the Taliban to negotiate a peace deal with the U.S. in Qatar in February this year. President Donald Trump has repeatedly said that he wanted “America’s longest war” to end as soon as possible.
There are challenges ahead, the diplomat said, like making sure the violence remains low during the talks and the government releases up to 5,000 prisoners in keeping with the February agreement.