US interlocutor for the Afghan-Taliban talks Zalmay Khalilzad on Tuesday pays a brief visit to India to meet with Foreign Minister S Jaishankar on the intra-Afghan talks which began in Doha on Sunday, six months later. than expected due to disagreements over a prisoner swap was accepted and the Taliban’s continued offensive against high value targets in Kabul.
Zalmay, the United States’ special representative for reconciliation in Afghanistan, is due to travel to Islamabad on Monday to convey to the Imran Khan government the need to reduce violence in Afghanistan if talks with the Taliban to end the violence in 19 years must succeed.
The American interlocutor wants to ensure that Rawalpindi GHQ takes steps to keep the Taliban on course in the peace talks. It is widely believed that the Taliban, had they not been under US military pressure, would rather take military control of the country and turn it into an Islamic emirate as they did in 1996.
Also read: Afghan forces and Taliban continue to clash even as peace talks begin
At the opening ceremony of the talks on Sunday, the Afghan government and its allies, including the United States, called for a ceasefire. Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the Afghan government peace process, said the Taliban could offer a ceasefire in exchange for the release of more of their jailed fighters. But the Taliban did not mention a truce when they came to the negotiating table.
“The first meeting between the contact groups of the two negotiating teams took place today. At this meeting, the code of conduct between the two parties, the schedules of upcoming meetings and the relevant issues were discussed and progress was made, ”Ahmad Nader Naderi, member of the team of government negotiation.
In addition to the United States, Afghanistan, the Taliban and Qatar hosting the talks, the weekend’s talks also brought together representatives from India, Pakistan, Russia, Germany, United Indonesia, Uzbekistan, Norway and the United Nations.
People familiar with the matter said it was the first time that India had participated in intra-Afghan talks at the Foreign Ministry level with Joint Secretary (Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran) JP Singh leading a delegation to Doha in Qatar which includes Deepak Mittal, the Indian Ambassador to Qatar and a Pakistan-Afghanistan expert.
Read also: “ The peace process must be led, owned and controlled by Afghanistan ”: India
According to diplomats in Doha and New Delhi, Zalmay, during his short four-hour trip to India, will share details of the Afghan peace process and appreciate India’s constructive role in Kabul for 20 years.
Pakistan is deeply concerned about India’s participation in the intra-Afghan Doha talks, but the United States, its other allies and the Afghan government have deeply appreciated India’s reconstruction effort.
The 21-member Afghan government negotiating team was led by Masoom Stanekzai, a former intelligence chief. The Taliban were led by Mawlavi Abdul Hakim, the chief justice of the terrorist group and a close aide to the group’s leader, Haibatullah Akhunzada.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who was in Doha for the opening ceremony, said negotiations would be difficult. “We will undoubtedly encounter many challenges in the talks over the next few days, weeks and months,” Pompeo said, calling on the warring parties to “seize this opportunity” to secure peace.
Zalmay Khalilzad told TOLO News from Afghanistan that there are indeed people in Afghanistan who prefer the current situation to peace with the Taliban while others try to keep Washington engaged in war so that it can pay the price,
“This is not acceptable and there is a solution to every problem, and a solution has to be found. We are ready to help if the country’s interests come first and personal interests do not come first. I am convinced that a solution will be found and we will not let personal interests take precedence. This is the United States’ promise to the Afghan people, ”Khalilzad said.
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