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Khalilzad on four-nation visit in peace push

AT News Report-KABUL: U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan peace process, Zalmay Khalilzad, is visiting Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Pakistan as part of Washington’s efforts to jump start peace talks with the Afghan Taliban.

Last month, Khalilzad met with Taliban leaders in Qatar to explore a way to end the 17-year-long war in Afghanistan.

The U.S. State Department said on Thursday in a statement, “On his last trip to the region in October, Special Representative Khalilzad called on the Afghan Government and the Taliban to organize authoritative negotiating teams, and has been encouraged to see that both parties are taking steps in that direction.”

“The United States remains committed to a political settlement that results in an end to the war and to the terrorist threat posed to the United States and the world.”

The Taliban are fighting the US-backed Kabul government to re-impose strict Islamic law and have stepped up attacks in strategic provinces.

A senior Taliban official said after last month’s talks that Khalilzad had asked the Taliban leadership, based in the Qatari capital Doha, to declare a ceasefire in Afghanistan for six months.

In exchange, the Taliban want the Afghan government to release fighters from jails and the swift removal of foreign forces fighting alongside Afghan troops.

A statement by the US embassy in Kabul about Khalilzad’s diplomatic tour in October did not confirm his meeting with the Taliban.

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