Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, has traveled to Doha for talks with the Taliban about the implementation of the peace deal the group signed with the US in February and will travel to Kabul to speak with Afghan government, the US State Department issued in a press release.
In his meetings with the Taliban, the statement said, Khalilzad will press for steps necessary to begin the intra-Afghan negotiations, including a significant reduction of violence.
The US envoy will also travel to Kabul after Doha where“he will meet with senior government officials to explore steps the Afghan government needs to take to make intra-Afghan negotiations begin as soon as possible,” the statement said.
Khalilzad’s trip comes as Taliban violence has increased countrywide. Security officials have said the group has conducted over 3,800 attacks after signing the peace deal with the US. The Taliban attacks have increased despite their commitment to a reduction in violence.
His visit comes on the heels of the signing of an agreement between President Ashraf Ghani and his rival Abdullah Abdullah that authorizes Abdullah to lead the peace efforts, as well as to have a 50 percent share of the cabinet, among other concessions.
The US Department of State says “throughout his trip, Ambassador Khalilzad will continue to reinforce the US view that the best path to end the conflict is for all parties to sit together and negotiate an agreement on the political future of Afghanistan.”
The start of the planned intra-Afghan negotiations has faced delays, but now there are hopes that the peace process will stay on track and yield results.