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Khalilzad embarks on new peace tour as Taliban dismisses talks

KABUL: US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has embarked on a two-week tour of Afghanistan, China, Pakistan and India for talks with each country’s leadership on the Afghan peace process, just after the Taliban dismissed direct talks with Kabul and Washington.

Khalilzad began his newest mission on January 8 — the same day that Taliban representatives announced that they would not attend peace talks in Qatar planned for January 9 and 10 with Khalilzad and other U.S. officials.

Khalilzad’s tour is meant to take him to Kabul as well as China, Pakistan, and India.

The U.S. State Department says his visits will last through January 21.

Khalilzad met Taliban representatives in Abu Dhabi in December.

But a Taliban representative in Qatar said that they had postponed a January 9-10 meeting with Khalilzad until further consultations could resolve an agenda disagreement.

The new trip could be due to Washington’s insistence that Afghan government officials must be involved in the talks.

He said there was also disagreement on a possible cease-fire deal and a proposed prisoner exchange.

The Taliban has consistently rejected requests from regional powers to allow Afghan government officials to take part in peace talks, insisting that the United States is their main adversary in Afghanistan.

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