Afghan president picks close aide as peace envoy
This comes amid cautious optimism for a peace deal with the Taliban this year
Amid high hopes for truce, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday appointed his close aide, Abdul Salam Rahimi, as special envoy for peace.
According to a statement issued by the presidency, Ghani picked his longstanding chief of staff, Rahimi, as special envoy for peace and state minister in peace affairs in accordance with Article 64 and Item 13 of the Constitution.
“Abdul Salam Rahimi will participate in cabinet meetings, National Security Council meetings, meetings of the high commissions and high councils,” the statement said.
There have been multiple signs of cautious optimism from the U.S. and NATO about a potential peace deal in Afghanistan this year.
In past three days, the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as well as U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have said a comprehensive peace agreement with the Taliban is within the grasps.
This comes as the U.S. and the Taliban began the seventh round of talks for peace in Doha, Qatar on Saturday.
The U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, last week stressed that the aim behind the ongoing peace talks with the Taliban is a comprehensive peace deal, not a withdrawal agreement.
In a series of tweets ahead of the seventh round of talks with the Taliban, Khalilzad said a comprehensive peace agreement is made up of four inter-connected parts: counter-terrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan negotiations that lead to a political settlement; and a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire.
He claimed this is a framework which the Taliban accept. “As we prepare for the next round of talks with the Taliban, important to remember we seek a comprehensive peace agreement, NOT a withdrawal agreement," he tweeted.
Separately, the Taliban’s Qatar office spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, has claimed in these talks, the U.S. has agreed to withdraw all forces from Afghanistan and to not intervene in future Afghan affairs.