US envoy briefs Afghan Pres on peace talks with Taliban

The United States’ special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that there has not been any significant progress in his peace talks with the Taliban.

However, Khalilzad said he was hopeful of reaching an understanding with the group on reduction of hostilities, but did not offer any timeframe, according to a statement issued by the presidential palace on Saturday.

After concluding talks in Doha, Brussels and Islamabad, Khalilzad arrived in Kabul on Saturday where he separately held discussions with Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah on US-Taliban talks.

According to Ghani’s office, Khalilzad hoped the peace talks to end the 18-year war will reach a conclusion.

“We are waiting for a clear response from the Taliban about a ceasefire or a significant and lasting reduction in violence based on a practical mechanism which is acceptable to the people of Afghanistan and the US government,” the palace quoted Khalilzad as saying.

Afghan government leaders remain split on the issue of a brief “reduction in violence” or a comprehensive ceasefire before a final agreement is reached between the US and Taliban.

Last week, Abdullah said no preconditions should be set for peace talks, while Ghani continued calling for a ceasefire.

Earlier on Saturday, the US embassy in Islamabad said Khalilzad was in Pakistan on Friday to rally support for getting an agreement with the Taliban to reduce their attacks as the first step towards peace.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry said it supported a quick peace deal with the Taliban and repeated Washington’s call for a reduction in violence.

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES

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