Khalilzad sheds light on Doha peace talks deadlock

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation this week outlined one of the sticking points between the Afghan negotiating team and the Taliban’s team, which has led to a deadlock in the peace process.

Speaking to Ariana News in Doha, Khalilzad said the Doha agreement signed in February between the United States and the Taliban was important – primarily four points.

These points he said, were the issue of foreign forces in Afghanistan, the issue of terrorism, that of intra-Afghan negotiations and the issue of reaching a political agreement which results in an enduring and comprehensive ceasefire.

He said the Taliban want these four points to be the cornerstone to intra-Afghan negotiations, but that the Afghanistan Republic’s team have their concerns, and want both sides to reach their own agreement.

“After all, this negotiation is between two delegations represented by two sides; the Islamic Republic and on the other side Taliban,” Khalilzad said adding that in order to end the war between the two sides, they have to seek a settlement around the negotiations tables.

He said: “It is a historical chance, and this is the responsibility of the elders of this country whether they seize this historical chance, and learn from the past and avoid mistakes.”

Khalilzad also said that the high levels of violence currently gripping the country need to be reduced as too many Afghans are being killed and wounded.

“It is not acceptable to us and it will undermine the negotiations,” he said.

“The world including the US and its allies and the neighbors of Afghanistan want the war in the country to end as soon as possible.

“Most of the neighbors realize the benefits for them if the conflict in Afghanistan ends,” he said adding that countries in the region know that with peace there will be prosperity through strengthened economic relations, trade, and investments which will lead to the development of the entire region.

Khalilzad also touched on the issue of the withdrawal of troops, which according to the Doha agreement should be finalized by April or May next year.

But this issue is conditions-based he said and if all “goes well and according to the Doha deal, so far it has been decided to reduce forces to 4,500 and we will see what happens next.”