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US Afghan envoy Zalmay Khalilzad wants peace deal before July vote

11 February 2019
US Afghan envoy Zalmay Khalilzad wants peace deal before July vote

Dan Feldman, a former USA special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said he believed Washington was still hesitant to become too hopeful about Pakistan's change in posture.

Khalilzad said he has pressed the Taliban to agree to a permanent cease-fire as a step toward ending the war, but they have resisted, arguing that it would remove their leverage and reduce the Afghan government's incentive to make concessions in direct negotiations.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Friday said those Taliban members whose names are on the United Nations blacklist are traveling freely while they are not allowed to do so, referring to the participation of some members of the group at Moscow talks this week.

This comes as the Taliban group has so far rejected to meet or hold talks with the Afghan government officials.

Until a full agreement on such cease-fire terms is reached, he said, no part of the agreement would be instituted, ruling out a quick withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan in the coming months. But it is not just a withdrawal agreement that we are seeking.

The U.S. Special representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Khalilzad has said that he is hopeful to finalize a peace deal with the Taliban group before presidential elections in Afghanistan. The ex-president also said he would like to see all foreign troops withdrawing from his country "as soon as possible", even though he admitted that it would likely be a "very hard process".

"I would be wary of taking that and extrapolating off that and saying they're now on board with the peace process", said Jason Campbell, who was the Pentagon's Afghanistan country director until past year and is now at the RAND Corporation think tank. Karzai also dismissed USA claims about providing security for Afghanistan.

If there is no progress towards peace, he added, "the elections will take place, and we are doing what we can to support the preparations for a credible election". "The Afghans must sit across the table with each other and come to an agreement about the future of their country", he said. So, the time has come, they say for an inclusive dialogue leading to an inclusive piece, he said. "It will take time for the Taliban to appreciate that, but the message they have given to me is that they understand that they can not go back".

Khalilzad said the U.S.is not seeking permanent military bases in Afghanistan and will leave if Kabul does not want USA troops there, "provided that there is no threat to our national security from Afghanistan, that there are not terrorist threats from Afghanistan to the United States - that is a red line, and I think that's the policy of the president as well".

He said that they had eventually even opened a political office in Doha, Qatar in 2013 for this objective, but Washington had been unwilling to negotiate at the time. Taliban officials alleged publicly this week that the United States had agreed to remove half of its troops from Afghanistan by May, a statement Khalilzad called false.

Even the United States has to admit that Russian Federation played a "positive role" in the Afghan peace process, and rushed to call for peace talks itself.

"We first and foremost have to put an end to the occupation and then focus on resolving our internal issues".