March 26, 2019

US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad On Afghanistan To Visit India

10 January 2019, 05:40 | Glen Norman



Pakistani and Iranian officials said they were trying to persuade the Taliban to meet Afghan officials.

"The Taliban said Khalilzad would visit the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and China to continue the discussion", Reuters noted, adding, "Khalilzad's office [a component of the U.S. Department of State] was not available for comment". But we also believe that the Taliban do not have, should not have, a dominant role in Afghanistan.

Reuters learned from its Taliban sources that the United States refused the terrorist group's demand that American authorities liberate 25,000 prisoners in exchange for 3,000 hostages allegedly held by the jihadi organization.

But the special envoy was hopeful of a breakthrough in talks this year, "We have declared that 2019 should be the year of peace in Afghanistan".

He said the Taliban must endorse the constitution and hold talks within the framework of the Afghan government.

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The Taliban, Afghanistan's largest armed group which was toppled from power by a US-led invasion in 2001, called off their meeting with the USA officials in Saudi Arabia this week following Riyadh's insistence on bringing the Western-backed Afghan government to the table.

"We would never announce any ceasefire until and unless we achieve major gains on the ground".

Acknowledging the instability and the threat of a resurgent Taliban, highly placed sources said that the Taliban dominated Afghanistan is a security threat not only to Iran and India but is an existential threat to Pakistan. "If President Trump had made such announcement in 2012, it might have caused some worries but now we have well-trained Afghan National Security Forces".

Donald Trump's special Afghan envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is travelling to India to coordinate efforts to facilitate an intra-Afghan political settlement, the State Department has announced, a day after the USA president discussed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi ways to enhance cooperation in war-torn Afghanistan.

As peace talks gained momentum a draft agreement drawn up by the influential USA think tank RAND Corporation outlining the clauses for a potential peace deal was circulated among Afghan officials and diplomats in Kabul.

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In July, Iranian authorities said Tehran had rejected eight USA requests for a meeting between Trump and President Hassan Rouhani on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in Sept 2017. It adds that the United States may continue providing civilian assistance.

The Afghan parties may invite the worldwide community to form a small, limited "Afghanistan Support Team" focused exclusively on counter-terrorism, it suggests.

The document suggests that the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation shall end their current military missions in Afghanistan and withdraw all their personnel in three phases, over an expected period of 18 months, but adding that the U.S. civilian cooperation should continue in Afghanistan post deal. It has maintained that any peace process and negotiation on Afghanistan has to be an Afghan-led process. He has urged India to go beyond its existing role in supporting infrastructure development in the war-torn country, preferably by sending troops to improve the security situation in Afghanistan.

According to the Afghan envoy, no final talks have taken place between the USA and Taliban thus far, which is why they are refusing to hold a meeting with the Afghan government. It has cost Washington almost a trillion dollars and killed tens of thousands of people.

The war was waged by an worldwide coalition led by the United States in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks.

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The insurgents, seeking to reimpose strict Islamic law after their 2001 ouster by US -led troops, called off a meeting with USA officials in Saudi Arabia this week because of Riyadh's insistence involving the Afghan government.

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