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Don’t let peace opportunity to slip away, Khalilzad tells Ghani

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KABUL: In an effort to seek negotiating political settlement in the Afghan conflict, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad told President Ashraf Ghani that the Afghans should not let the opportunity for peace to slip away.

Ghani’s spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi said that President had met with US point-man for peace Zalmay Khalilzad and General Scott Miller, the commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan in Doha, the capital city of Qatar, and they discussed the latest on the Afghan peace negotiations.

Both sides expressed concerns over the increase of violence by the Taliban and reiterated the need for an immediate and significant reduction of violence leading to a ceasefire, Sediqqi added.

In a series of tweets, Khalilzad has affirmed ongoing US support to Afghanistan. “General Miller and I affirmed ongoing US support to Afghanistan, our partnership, and a peace process meant to produce a political settlement and an end to decades of war.”

 “I told the President Afghans should not let the opportunity for peace to slip away. He said he supports the Islamic Republic negotiators doing their work as long as it takes. I said I’m encouraged by what I heard from all sides, including the two teams’ commitment to peace,” Mr. Khalilzad added.

He said that the United States supports an Afghan-led, and Afghan-owned process and remains ready to assist. “We call on all nations, especially the neighbors and other key players, to do the same.”

He also talked about violence which is too high, and too many Afghans are dying. “We are pressing for a significant reduction in violence that will lead to a permanent and comprehensive ceasefire,” Mr. Khalilzad added.

“A significant reduction in violence will save lives; increase trust; broaden support for peace; and help the negotiating teams make progress at a faster pace. This is what the Afghan people want. And the United States stands with them.”

This is the US Chargé d’Affaires in Afghanistan, Ross Wilson had expressed sadness on the recent terrorist attacks in the eastern provinces of Nangarhar and Laghman.

“I condemn the rise in violence,” Wilson said, “In a year that held out such promises and hope, there has been far too much tragedy in Afghanistan.”

This is as a deadly car bombings ripped through Nangarhar and Laghman provinces this week, in which hundreds of civilians were killed and wounded. This indicates the latest in a string of suicide car bombings in Afghanistan signaling a dangerous spike in violence. 

The spike in violence comes amid heightened violence nationwide as Afghan officials in Doha struggle to negotiate a political settlement with the Taliban to end the war, with slender success so far.

President Ghani had embarked on a tour to Qatar and Kuwait on Monday, where he discussed elevating bilateral ties and crucial peace talks. 

His trip comes amid stagnation in negotiations between Afghan and Taliban delegates who are grappling with a rift over principles of peace talks. Some interpret Ghani’s Qatar visit as an effort to break that deadlock.

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