Top US negotiator in Kabul to brief Afghan government

In a photo taken on April 28, US envoy for peace in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad speaks during a debate in Kabul, Afghanistan.
In a photo taken on April 28, US envoy for peace in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad speaks during a debate in Kabul, Afghanistan.PHOTO: REUTERS

KABUL (REUTERS) - US President Donald Trump's top negotiator for Afghanistan was in Kabul on Sunday (Oct 27) to brief the Afghan president on peace efforts on his first trip back since Mr Trump ended talks with the Taleban aimed at ending America's longest war.

The visit by Zalmay Khalilzad comes after a flurry of low-key meetings that he has held, including with the Taliban this month in neighbouring Pakistan.

"The aim of his visit is clear, to report to President Ghani on his recent visits and meetings in some countries regarding the Afghan peace process," an official in Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's office said.

Talks with the Taleban on a plan to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan in exchange for Taleban security guarantees were halted by Trump last month following the death of a US soldier and 11 other people in a Taleban bomb attack in Kabul.

Before the US-Taleban talks broke off, both sides said they were close to reaching a deal, despite concerns among some US security officials and Afghan government officials that a US withdrawal could bring more conflict and a resurgence of Islamist militant factions.

The Taleban have refused to talk to Mr Ghani's government, denouncing it as a US puppet.

Mr Khalilzad had been pressing the Taleban to declare a ceasefire with Afghan government forces and make a commitment to power-sharing talks. The Taleban said that would follow a deal on the withdrawal of all foreign forces.

The Taleban were ready to stand by the tentative agreement struck before Mr Trump cancelled the talks, according to Pakistani officials and sources militant group sources, who said the insurgents were eager to resume negotiations.

Mr Trump too, despite calling off the talks, is keen to end US involvement in Afghanistan, which began weeks after the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

 

The United States has about 12,000 troops in Afghanistan.