Delegations from the Afghan government and the Taliban held a series of talks over the past few days in Doha, as the US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad started a trip to the region as part of his peace efforts, Afghanistan’s ToloNews reported on the authority of unnamed sources.
The Afghan news agency said that the talks between Kabul negotiators and the Taliban reportedly focused on at least five key issues, including a future constitution, ceasefire, political roadmap and the political participation in the transition period.
According to the report, Najia Anwari, a spokesperson for the State Ministry for Peace Affairs said that “serious discussions are taking place between the Afghan Republic and the Taliban negotiators” in Doha in the past few days.
The development comes as Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, started a new series of his trips to the region for Afghan peace. Khalilzad is touring the region, amid continuing US withdrawal of forces, which President Joe Biden had said would complete by August 31.
Since the beginning of the withdrawal earlier this year, Taliban have advances have brought several parts of the country under their control. Khalilzad has said that he was surprised by recent advances by the Taliban but warned that a military takeover was not the solution to the conflict.
“I’m not surprised that the conflict has intensified, but I am surprised by the progress that the Talibs have made and I’m hoping that the Afghan forces with help from their friends will find their bearing and push back. But again, I repeat, there is no military solution,” he said.
“The Taliban know that they need to be accepted as part of the future of Afghanistan, not to be a pariah. To invade Kabul and impose a government will put all the things they want internationally at risk. We will not recognize a government in Afghanistan that is imposed by force,” Khalilzad said.
The US State Department has stressed that political accommodation on the part of all sides remains urgent. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who held talks with his Pakistani and Qatari counterparts this week, had said that all these countries have a key role to play with regard to peace in Afghanistan.
The State Department announced on Saturday that Khalilzad departed for South and Central Asia as well as the Middle East on July 9. “Ambassador Khalilzad will continue to engage in determined diplomacy and the pursuit of a peace agreement between the Islamic Republic and the Taliban,” it added.
“As part of the United States’ ongoing support of the peace process, he will work with all parties and with regional and international stakeholders to further advance a consensus on a political settlement,” the statement said.
“The sooner the sides can agree to a negotiated settlement, the sooner Afghanistan and the region can reap the benefits of peace, including expanded regional connectivity, trade, and development,” it added.
In the meantime, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that based on agreement with the US and NATO, Turkey will take responsibility of providing security to the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
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