The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, and the US and NATO forces commander in Afghanistan, General Scott Miller, are in Brussels to discuss the Afghan peace process with NATO officials, according to Kay Bailey Hutchison, the United States Ambassador to NATO.
She said in a tweet “The US and NATO allies remain committed in our military and diplomatic efforts to help bring the war in Afghanistan to an end, ensure that we are never again threatened by terrorists operating from Afghanistan’s soil, and to create the conditions for Afghans to come together to negotiate a lasting peace.”
Khalilzad’s trip to Brussels comes as a new round of talks begins with the Taliban in Doha, where sources say he has recently asked the delegation of the insurgent group to agree on a long-term reduction in violence.
Up to this point, the Taliban have been open to a short-term reduction in violence.
“I don’t think that a peace deal will be signed by the end of January. There is a possibility that it will be signed within the next few weeks if the two sides agree,” said Khalilullah Safi, former head of Pugwash in Afghanistan.
In Kabul, the Afghan government and political leaders are debating over who should represent the Afghan people in the imminent intra-Afghan talks. Some prominent politicians, including former president Hamid Karzai, this week held gatherings and discussions to form a team for this purpose, as an alternative to President Ghani’s negotiation team.
“Another meeting will be held next week in which a final decision will be made on a unified plan for peace and a 15-member negotiating team,” said Haji Din Mohammad, head of Hizb-e-Islami Solh Wa Taraqi, who also attended the first meeting of the political figures.
Critics have accused Ghani’s team of not being inclusive and representative of the Afghan people, but the Presidential Palace insists that this negotiating team has been formed after consultations with the people and politicians.
“We have consulted with the people and politicians in each and every step for ensuring peace,” presidential spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said. “The doors for consultation and constructive views have been open.”