WASHINGTON -- US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad Tuesday (January 8) embarked on another trip to Afghanistan and nearby regional countries in a fresh bid to negotiate an end to the 17-year-old Afghan conflict.
Khalilzad, who met last month with Taliban representatives in Abu Dhabi, will travel to Afghanistan as well as China, India and Pakistan on his latest trip, which will last through January 21, the US State Department said in a statement January 8.
Although the State Department did not say whether Khalilzad will meet with the Taliban again, the statement said he would talk to the "Afghan government officials and other interested parties".
"The only solution to the conflict is for all parties to sit together and reach an agreement on the political future of Afghanistan with mutual respect and acceptance," said the State Department, quoting Khalilzad.
Khalilzad "will meet with senior government officials in each country to facilitate an intra-Afghan political settlement", according to the State Department. "The U.S. goal is to promote dialogue among Afghans about how to end the conflict, and to encourage the parties to come together at the negotiating table to reach a political settlement where every Afghan citizen enjoys equal rights and responsibilities under the rule of law."
On January 8, the Taliban reportedly called off a scheduled meeting with the US representatives because of a disagreement over the agenda. The US embassy in Kabul, however, the denied the reports and once again called on the militant group to sit down with the Afghan government for direct negotiations.
"Reports of US-Taliban talks Wednesday inaccurate," US Ambassador to Afghanistan John R. Bass tweeted Tuesday. "Taliban should talk to fellow Afghans as much as they talk to media."
Last month, Khalilzad voiced doubts about the Taliban's sincerity after Taliban representatives refused to meet with the Afghan government's negotiating team for direct talks in Abu Dhabi.
While confident that the Afghan government wanted to put an end to the conflict, Khalilzad told Ariana News on December 20 that he questioned whether the Taliban leaders were "genuinely seeking peace".
Khalilzad's talks with the Taliban last month involved Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the three countries that recognised the 1996-2001 Taliban regime in Kabul before its ouster by a US-led coalition.
Hope for lasting peace
The Afghan government has called on the Taliban numerous times to engage in direct talks with its representatives in order to reach a peace agreement.
In September 2017, President Ashraf Ghani achieved a peace agreement with Hezb-e-Islami, an insurgent group led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
Recent efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan have increased hope among the Afghan people, who are fed up with war and long for stability and peace.
"The people of Afghanistan have been very proud of the peace process because the current peace efforts are far more serious and decisive than the ones from previous years," Kamran Alizai, chairman of the Herat Provincial Council, told Salaam Times.
I disagree, because the United States and other global and regional powers that share their interests with the U.S. are all after their own interests. There is no doubt that the prevalence of peace in Afghanistan is directly related to their interests. In my humble opinion, a sustainable and useful peace for Afghanistan is one that is intra-Afghan and is held inside Afghanistan, not in Qatar, Russia, or other places!Reply
I think that the Taliban are not at the level that they could decide on their own to hold meetings with the heads of Kabul government and to reach a decision on the changing of the country's political climate and bringing permanent stability. Rather, they can only represent others. The intelligence agencies in the region, chief among them the Pakistan's, are issuing the orders while hiding behind curtains. The Taliban leaders, along with all members of their families, are living in Quetta in captivity of the Pakistani government, and cannot take any decision without consulting and directing of officials at Pakistan ISI's .Reply
Khalilzad and in general the United States of America should present Taliban to talk with the Afghan government, and if America mistakenly leaves behind Afghans with knives and guns in hands on the ground, this kind of an act will make a historical shame for Americans. However, Americans may show the world that they had come to Afghanistan to crush the Al-Qaida and they expelled Al-Qaida, but the reality is that they are children of those same snakes and if they are not reformed, they can cause risk again to the world and especially to America, but in fact Pakistan will compel them to misuse the name of Islam and cause risk to the world, because the foundation of Pakistan was laid on the same dirt.Reply