US peace negotiator returns to Kabul

By Shadi Khan SaifKABUL, Afghanistan (AA) – In his second trip to Kabul in less than a week, Zalmay Khalilzaad, U.S. representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, briefed the Afghan leaders Saturday about his recent engagement for the peace process in Pakistan, Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Flanked by Gen. Scott Miller, top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan John Bass , Khalilzad briefed Afghan president, Mohammad Ashraf Ghani and his deputies about his first trip to the region since being appointed at this post last month aimed at expediting the peace process.
According to the Afghan president’s office the U.S. envoy said Washington was ready to help Afghanistan with the peace process. It noted in a statement that Khalilzad said the U.S. would continue its efforts with the Afghan peace process alongside the leadership of the Afghan government.
The local Azadi Radio has reported that Khalilzad held a meeting with the Taliban representatives in Qatar before visiting Kabul. However, this has not been confirmed by the U.S. State Department, the Afghan government or the Taliban.
The apparent push by the U.S. for the reconciliation process has raised hopes in the war-ravaged country.
Deen Mohammad, member of the High Peace Council, the Afghan government body tasked with pursuing peace with the Taliban, told Anadolu Agency efforts by Khalilzad, an Afghanistan-born seasoned American diplomat who has also served as ambassador to Kabul, Iraq and the United Nations, would help pave way for a peaceful settlement of the ragging conflict.
“His consecutive trips to Riyadh, Islamabad and Doha demonstrate the seriousness with which he is pursuing a peaceful settlement,” he said.
On his previous trip to Kabul, this past Monday, Khalilzad called on Taliban to come up with an authorized team of negotiators for peace talks.
Khalilzad said this at a briefing with Afghan journalists during his trip to Kabul as part of his tour following visits to Pakistan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Taliban have not responded to the latest remarks by Khalilzad.