Tale­ban meet with US ‘peace en­voy’ in Qatar

Elec­tion rally blast kills 14

Arab Times - - IN­TER­NA­TIONAL -

KABUL, Oct 13, (Agen­cies): A Tale­ban del­e­ga­tion has met with US en­voy Zal­may Khalilzad in Qatar to dis­cuss end­ing the Afghan con­flict, the mil­i­tant group said Satur­day, in the first of­fi­cial con­fir­ma­tion of talks be­tween the two sides.

The land­mark meet­ing was held as Khalilzad seeks to co­or­di­nate ef­forts with re­gional coun­tries, in­clud­ing Pak­istan and Saudi Ara­bia, to bring the Tale­ban to the ne­go­ti­at­ing table.

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

The Tale­ban had re­port­edly met with US of­fi­cials in July af­ter an un­prece­dented cease­fire in June, which fu­elled hopes that talks could bring an end to fight­ing af­ter 17 years.

That meet­ing was not con­firmed on the record by ei­ther side, but there has been wide­spread spec­u­la­tion since then that more talks were planned.

Khalilzad

Peace

A wave of at­tacks by the Tale­ban and the Is­lamic State group in re­cent months, how­ever, has poured cold wa­ter on the nascent op­ti­mism for peace.

A spokesman for the US em­bassy in Kabul de­clined to com­ment on the Tale­ban state­ment.

Dur­ing the lat­est meet­ing, Tale­ban and US ne­go­tia­tors dis­cussed a “peace­ful end to the in­va­sion in Afghanistan”, Mu­jahid said.

Both sides “agreed to con­tinue such meet­ings”, he added, with­out pro­vid­ing fur­ther de­tails.

The state­ment was is­sued as Khalilzad re­turned to Kabul af­ter a re­gional trip that be­gan with his first visit to Afghanistan since his ap­point­ment last month as US en­voy.

Mean­while, a mo­tor­cy­cle rigged with ex­plo­sives det­o­nated at an elec­tion rally in north­east­ern Afghanistan on Satur­day killing at least 14 peo­ple, in­clud­ing civil­ians and se­cu­rity forces, of­fi­cials said.

Khalil Aser, spokesman for the provin­cial po­lice chief in Takhar prov­ince, said 32 oth­ers were wounded when the ex­plo­sives-laden mo­tor­bike parked near the rally in Rus­taq district ex­ploded.

“There are a num­ber of wounded peo­ple in crit­i­cal con­di­tion,” he said.

The at­tack took place at about noon be­fore Nazefa Yu­soufi Beg, a fe­male can­di­date run­ning for a seat in par­lia­ment in Oct 20 elec­tions, ar­rived at the rally, Aser said. It was not im­me­di­ately clear if she was the tar­get.

Jawad Ha­jri, spokesman for the provin­cial gov­er­nor, said Rus­taq is a re­mote district where in­sur­gent at­tacks have not oc­curred in the past and the can­di­date’s sup­port­ers had gath­ered for the rally con­fi­dent they would be safe.

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