Khalilzad embarks on five-nation tour on Afghan peace
KABUL: The United States has dispatched a Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad to press for peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban—a deadlock in reconciliation due to controversies in prisoner swaps process.
Top US negotiator, Khalilzad scheduled to visit Kabul during a trip with stops in five nations, the US State Department said in a statement on Sunday.
The US Special Representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, departed on Friday to travel to Doha, Kabul, Islamabad, Oslo and Sofia, the department said.
“Although significant progress has been made on prisoner exchanges, the issue requires additional effort to fully resolve,” the department said.
The Trump administration is eyeing to pull out US troops from Afghanistan and already it has reduced to 8,400. Based on the US-Taliban peace agreement hammered out on 29th February in Doha, the US and NATO troops would leave Afghanistan.
The core purpose of the deal is to pave the way for the formal peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. It has been a long-awaited discussion now as it was expected to be held within 10 days after the US-Taliban peace deal. Almost six months delay in the Afghan-to-Afghan talks which have fated to end the war.
The core obstacle ahead of peace talks is the issue of prisoner release. The Taliban had claimed that Afghan intelligence agency had conducted surprise operations against the released militants, and warned of dire consequences if it did not stop raids and detention against the Taliban members.
The Afghan government has released over 4,000 out of 5,000 Taliban prisoners as part of peace efforts, and the Taliban also released some 800 Afghan government forces.
A number of the released Taliban prisoners have returned to the battlefield. The remaining Taliban inmates with having big criminal records, including rape charges, will not be released, the government says. This process has remained one of the challenges that has dashed to the ground the people’s hope toward the peace process.
Mr. Khalilzad will press for a deal on prisoner exchanges and a reduction in violence, two issues that have hampered progress towards starting peace talks.