Tal­iban con­firm meet­ing with US en­voy to dis­cuss Afghan con­flict

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTNATION - Agence France­presse

KABUL: A Tal­iban del­e­ga­tion has met with US en­voy Zal­may Khalilzad in Qatar to dis­cuss end­ing the Afghan con­flict, the mil­i­tant group said Satur­day, the first time ei­ther side has of­fi­cially con­firmed talks.

The di­rect ne­go­ti­a­tions — a long­stand­ing Tal­iban de­mand — were held as Khalilzad seeks to co­or­di­nate ef­forts with re­gional coun­tries, in­clud­ing Pak­istan and Saudi Ara­bia, to con­vince Afghanistan’s largest mil­i­tant group to en­gage in talks.

The meet­ing with Khalilzad and other Amer­i­can of­fi­cials took place in Doha on Fri­day, Tal­iban spokesman Zabi­hul­lah Mu­jahid said in a state­ment.

Tal­iban and US ne­go­tia­tors dis­cussed a “peace­ful end to the in­va­sion in Afghanistan”, Mu­jahid said, re­fer­ring to the Us-led in­ter­ven­tion in 2001 that top­pled the Tal­iban regime. But the group made clear that the pres­ence of for­eign forces in the coun­try was a “big ob­sta­cle” to peace.

Both sides “agreed to con­tinue such meet­ings”, he added.

In a state­ment, Khalilzad said all Afghans “must be a part of this rec­on­cil­i­a­tion process”, but he did not men­tion meet­ing with the Tal­iban.

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