The US’s top diplomat for Afghanistan has met with a Taliban delegation in Qatar in a bid to break the deadlock over the peace process.
The group confirmed in a statement released on Saturday that its members met with Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-American diplomat who now heads the US’ mission for Afghanistan’s peace.
Taliban said in the statement that the head of the Qatar political office Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, Mawalwi Salam Hanafi, Shuhabuddin Delawar, Qari Deen Moh. Hanif, Zahed Ahmadzai and Sohail Shaheen were at the meeting.
The statement said that Taliban representatives discussed the “end of occupation” and “a peaceful solution in Afghanistan” in their meeting with Khalilzad.
According to their statement the group’s delegation stressed the need for a “real and Afghan-inclusive solution” and that the two sides agreed to continue the meetings in the future.
This is the second meeting of a top US official with the Taliban.
In July, Alice Wells, the US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs met with Taliban officials to discuss ways to lay the groundwork for peace talks.
Khalilzad’s meeting with the Taliban comes after he wrapped up his regional trip on Afghanistan’s peace and arrived in Kabul on Saturday – after he left the country for a regional trip on Tuesday.
President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday met with Khalilzad who briefed him on his visit to regional countries this past week, and said the US is ready to help Afghanistan with the peace process, the Presidential Palace said in a statement.
On Friday, Khalilzad met with Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, while in Doha.
The two officials discussed ways of achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan and Qatar’s role in the peace process in the country, The Peninsula Qatar reported.
The High Peace Council meanwhile said the authority welcomes efforts by the US envoy for Afghanistan’s peace process.
“We welcome any move which will help end the conflict and violence in Afghanistan. Based on the recognition from Mr. Khalizad, we consider his efforts as a positive step,” said Assadullah Zaeri, deputy head of the High Peace Council.
Khalilzad returned to Kabul on Saturday after his first visit last Sunday where he met with a wide range of stakeholders.