US envoy says talks with Taliban entering ‘new stage’


The U.S. envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation on Monday said the peace talks with the Taliban are entering a “new stage”.

Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington’s top envoy for Afghanistan, met President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani at the presidency in Kabul on late Sunday.

In a series of tweets on early Monday, he said an agreement has been reached over the significance of preparation for intra-Afghan negotiations.

“Good meeting w/ Pres @AshrafGhani & his team. Discussed building further intl [international] consensus for #peace. Also regional requirements & implications for peace including recent positive movement in AfPak [Afghanistan-Pakistan] relations & opportunities peace will provide for regional connectivity & development”, Khalilzad said in a Twitter post.

According to the Afghan president’s office, the U.S. envoy presented a briefing about his latest shuttle diplomacy for peace that took him to Europe as well as Pakistan.

“Both sides expressed pleasure over the role of Germany in this regard [intra-Afghan dialogue for peace] and expressed hope to initiate the first round of intra-Afghan dialogue at the earliest,” it said.

The U.S. envoy has so far held at least six rounds of talks with the Taliban since taking charge in September last year, but the Taliban continue to refuse pressing demands for ceasefire in Afghanistan.

Last month, Khalilzad had expressed dissatisfaction over the pace of these talks.

The annual fighting season is in full swing in war-ravaged Afghanistan as the warring sides failed to reach an agreement for ceasefire in the holy month of Ramadan and for the Muslim holy festival of Eid al-Fitr.

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