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Khalilzad resume his Afghanistan peace quest

Khalilzad met Mullah Bardar in Qatar, discussing humanitarian ceasefire and reduction in violence—fled to India and discussed the US peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan with country’s top official  

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KABUL: US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has resumed has diplomatic mission to succeed the US-Taliban peace deal that hammered out on late February in Doha to end the endless war in Afghanistan through a political settlement.

“Lengthy meeting overnight with Mullah Baradar and his team in Doha—We sought progress on a range of topics: a reduction in violence, humanitarian ceasefire as demanded by the international community to allow for better cooperation on managing COVID-19 pandemic in Afghanistan, acceleration of prisoner releases by both sides, actions necessary to secure the freedom of U.S. citizen Mark Frerichs, regional and international support for the peace process, and movement to intra-Afghan negotiations ASAP,” Khalilzad said in a tweet message.

He said he will meet again Mullah Bardar and his team after his trip to India and Pakistan.

Khalilzad, on Thursday afternoon met with Indian officials and discussed the US peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

Khalilzad was accompanied by the senior director in the US National Security Council, Lisa Curtis, and the US ambassador to India, Mr. Ken Juster.

Khalilzad provided an update on the US peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan, saying: “The US side recognized India’s constructive contribution in economic development, reconstruction and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan,” the statement read. 

“They laid importance to India’s crucial and continuing role in sustainable peace, security and stability in Afghanistan,” it said.

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s minister of external affairs and NSA reiterated India’s continued support for strengthening peace, security, unity, democratic and inclusive polity and protection of rights of all sections of the Afghan society, including Afghan Hindus and Sikhs.

“India is deeply concerned at the upsurge in violence and supports call for immediate ceasefire and need to assist the people of Afghanistan in dealing with coronavirus pandemic. India remains engaged in extending humanitarian food and medical supplies to Afghanistan to deal with the situation created by coronavirus,” said the statement.

“It was emphasized that putting an end to terrorist safe havens and sanctuaries is necessary for enduring and sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan,” it added.

To accelerate the peace efforts, the Afghan government has released 933 Taliban prisoners so far and the Taliban released 150 Afghan security personnel.

The National Security Council said 1,500 Taliban prisoners will be released and the first round of the prisoner process will be completed. The government expects intra-Afghan talks once the process completed.

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