The US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad departed on June 28 for travel to Doha and will meet Taliban leaders to discuss the intra-Afghan talks, the US State Department said in a statement on Sunday.
Khalilzad departed on June 28 for travel to Doha, Islamabad, and Tashkent, the statement said, adding that “At all three locations, Ambassador Khalilzad will urge support for all Afghans to meet their remaining commitments ahead of intra-Afghan negotiations, specifically reduced violence and timely prisoner releases.”
The statement said that Khalilzad is joined by US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) CEO Adam Boehler and his team.
“Afghan peace, economic growth, and regional connectivity are closely linked and mutually supportive,” the statement said, adding that “the delegation will explore investment opportunities and partnerships in a range of sectors to advance the economic recovery of Afghanistan and support sustained peace and stability in the region.”
“Due to the challenges of travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ambassador Khalilzad, CEO Boehler, and their delegation will also conduct meetings with Afghan officials throughout the trip remotely via video,” the statement added.
As violence continues across the country, President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday called on the Taliban to end the violence and instead come forward to start the intra-Afghan talks.
Speaking to the Afghan senators at the Presidential Palace early on Saturday, Ashraf Ghani stressed the need for a swift start to the intra-Afghan peace process.
“Referring to the increased violence by the Taliban, the President stressed the need for an end to the violence to help kick start intra-Afghan talks as soon as possible,” the President Palace said in a statement, quoting Ghani.
Meanwhile, Stephano Pontecorvo, NATO’s Civilian Representative to Afghanistan, in an interview with TOLOnews said the Afghan government and the Taliban should address their commitments to move the peace process forward.
“There are a number of conditions that will take us to the intra-Afghan negotiations: prisoner release, reduction in violence and more generally, the building of trust from those parties. I think the Afghan government is showing the strong commitment towards getting to the IAN in the shortest possible timeframe,” he said. “The Taliban side is also releasing the required prisoners. These are conditions, which are conducive to the intra-Afghan negotiations.”