Taliban delegation visits Uzbekistan to discuss Afghan peace process, security


TASHKENT -- A Taliban delegation travelled to Uzbekistan last week to discuss the Afghan peace process, officials said Sunday (August 12).

Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, chief of the Taliban office in Qatar, met with Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov in Tashkent August 7-10, said Kamilov's ministry in a statement.

The two sides discussed the "prospects for the peace process in Afghanistan", the statement added.

The conferees discussed peace and "future national projects such as security for railway and power lines", said the Taliban in their own statement.

The talks follow an earlier trip to Uzbekistan by President Ashraf Ghani in late March.

The move was welcomed by some in Kabul, where pressure is mounting on the insurgents to end the almost 17-year-old war.

The Taliban have continued to push for direct negotiations with the United States, rather than with the government in Kabul, but have also attempted to build independent contacts with other governments.

"These kind of meetings are going to continue until the real talks begin," Sayed Ehsan Taheri, a spokesman for the Afghanistan High Peace Council, told AFP.

Anticipation has been mounting about the possibility of a government ceasefire announcement for Eid ul Adha later this month.

An unprecedented truce in June brought fighting between security forces and the Taliban to a temporary halt, giving war-weary Afghans some welcome relief from violence.

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