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Khalilzad holds talks with Afghan negotiators

AT News

KABUL: Afghanistan’s negotiating team have discussed the mechanics and nuts and bolts of peace talks with U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Qatar, with both the sides reflecting on progress and challenges ahead of the long-stalled negotiations.

In a tweet, the Afghan government’s peace team in Doha said that discussions revolved around ways to resolve problems and speed up peace process.

During the meeting, Zalmai Khalilzad reiterated the United States’ continued support for the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. The tweet said issues such as “the mechanism of transition from war to permanent peace and an Islamic system of governance” will be discussed in next meetings.

Last week, Khalilzad said he had resumed a series of trips to Doha and the region to continue US diplomacy to reach a peace agreement between Afghanistan government and the Taliban.

Iran also hosted Afghan officials and the Taliban in Tehran to focus efforts on “finding a political solution in Afghanistan”.

Afghanistan’s foreign ministry welcomed the meeting and said it hoped it will “lead to an end to the violence and the start of serious negotiations aimed at ensuring lasting peace in the country.”

The withdrawal of foreign forces has been accompanied by battlefield victories by the Taliban.  Late Thursday, the Taliban had seized Islam Qala border crossing in Herat province, bordering Iran.

Iranian media reported that Afghan soldiers on the border fled to Iran for refuge.

Last week, also 1,000 Afghan soldiers retreated into Tajikistan amid clashes as the Taliban seized that border.

This all happened before a Taliban delegation visited Moscow on Thursday and met with Zamir Kabulov, the Russian special envoy for Afghanistan, apparently to reassure Russia that unrest along the border would not spill into Russia’s backyard.

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