The US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad briefed President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday night in Kabul following six days of talks with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.
In a statement issued by the Presidential Palace, Ghani’s office said Khalilzad quashed rumors of talks around the future structure of Afghanistan’s system with the Taliban and that there was no truth in reports of an interim government.
“There has been no discussion about the future structure of Afghanistan’s system with the Taliban,” the Presidential Palace quoted him as saying.
“The issue of interim government is completely incorrect and that’s not within my authority. My mission is to pave the ground for intra-Afghan dialogue,” Khalilzad said.
He also emphasized that the Taliban only discussed a ceasefire, but no progress has been made yet.
According to Khalilzad, during the meeting with the Taliban, America emphasized that the only solution to lasting peace was an intra-Afghan dialogue.
“Taliban want US withdrawal from Afghanistan, but the US has not yet agreed with them in this regard. If any decision is made about the troops withdrawal, it would be done in coordination with the Afghan government,” Khalilzad said.
According to the statement Ghani thanked Khalilzad for briefing him on last week’s developments and said he appreciated the US for their efforts in beginning about intra-Afghan talks.
Talks Gather Momentum
In light of Khalilzad’s report back, Ghani on Monday addressed the nation in a televised message and called on the Taliban to engage in direct talks with government.
Ghani also assured the people that their rights will not be compromised in the name of peace and that the country’s sovereignty will be upheld.
He said the Taliban has two choices at the moment - to either stand with the people of Afghanistan or be used as a tool by other countries.
Ghani said concerted efforts were being carried out for peace but at the same time government was also working hard to develop the country.
He said government was committed to ending the 40-year-old war and said that this was the wish of all Afghans.
On the issue of foreign troops in the country, he said no country wants this indefinitely but that currently, Afghanistan needs these forces.
Until now, the Taliban has refused to sit with the Afghan government, which it sees as illegitimate. However, they have held four rounds of talks with the US since last year.
Although he did not give any details about discussions between himself and Khalilzad he appeared to stand firm in his demand that the Taliban engage directly with Kabul.