Asia - pacific

Afghan officials upbeat about peace with Taliban

‘We would witness landmark developments in coming months if not in days,’ says Afghan top negotiator

Ekip   | 19.12.2018
Afghan officials upbeat about peace with Taliban

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By Shadi Khan Saif

KABUL, Afghanistan

Amid recent U.S. push for a negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict, the Kabul government's top peace negotiator said on Wednesday peace would be realized soon.

Umer Daudzai, secretary of the Afghan government’s High Peace Council (HPC), top government body tasked with reaching a peace deal, told a moot in Kabul that things are fast developing and soon work would begin on drafting a peace accord.

“I say it again, with the experience and contacts I have, we would witness landmark developments in coming months if not in days”, he said.

Abdul Karim Khalili, head of the HPC, said the government supports and welcomes all bids to end the war and bring peace.

This came following intensive sessions of talks by the top U.S.’s peace negotiator for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad with the Afghan officials, the Taliban, and representatives from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Pakistan in Abu Dhabi over the past two days.

The Taliban have stressed multiple times they have not, and they would not talk with the Afghan officials, and instead discuss with the U.S about the future of Afghanistan.

Zabihullah Mujahed, the Taliban spokesman, noted in a statement on Wednesday the talks in Abu Dhabi were focused on the exit of foreign troops, an end to “blindly and deadly air raids on civilians” and release of prisoners.

“Their (Taliban) representatives are consulting to work on five-year post-peace deal strategy so that how Taliban will be a normal part of the society,” Daudzai was quoted as saying by the local Tolo News. 

Khalilzad’s visit to Pakistan  

The top U.S.'s peace negotiator on Wednesday visited Pakistan as part of his extensive shuttle diplomacy.

“Zalmay Khalizad met the army chief (to) discuss regional security and Afghan peace process. The visiting dignitary appreciated Pakistan’s efforts for Afghan peace process,” Pakistani army’s spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor said in a Twitter post.

Assuring continuous efforts for bringing peace and stability in the region, Pakistan’s army chief Gen. Qamer Javed Bajwa reiterated that peace in Afghanistan was important for Pakistan, Ghafoor added.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, a senior military official said the two also discussed the proposal of a six-month truce in Afghanistan that could later lead to the formation of a national government.

“Things are in initial phase at the moment. Nothing concrete, except the two sides agreed to continue the process, has come out of the talks,” the official said on condition of anonymity due to restrictions on speaking to the media. 

* Aamir Latif in Karachi contributed to this story

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