Taliban Concluding Internal Discussion on US Plan: Sources

The Taliban are due to finalize consultations about the US-proposed draft peace plan, sources familiar with the group told TOLOnews.

Meanwhile, Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, who formerly served as ambassador to Pakistan during the Taliban regime, stated that the recent moves by the US indicate that Washington is serious about getting the Afghan peace process to succeed.

“Recent moves by the US and the move to send a letter to Afghanistan (Antony Blinken’s letter) shows that the US has a strong interest in the situation in Afghanistan and it wants the Afghan issue to be resolved soon,” said Abdul Salam Zaeef, the former Taliban envoy to Pakistan.

According to Zaeef, currently the Taliban and the US are working on a plan that includes a reduction in violence, the release of Taliban prisoners and the removal of Taliban names from the UN blacklist.

“The US and the Taliban are also working on a plan with to reduce violence and to help release the Taliban prisoners and bring the names of their leaders off of the blacklist,” said Zaeef.

Amid new efforts by the US to expedite Afghanistan’s reconciliation process, officials on Tuesday confirmed that Russia is planning to host a meeting on the Afghan peace process within the next 9 days and that it will invite key political leaders for the event.

Politicians from Afghanistan, including President Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, as well as foreign envoys and the Taliban representatives, are expected to attend the meeting in Moscow on March 18 to discuss the Afghan peace process, the reconciliation council’s spokesman Fraidoon Khwazoon said.

The aim of the meeting is to accelerate Afghanistan’s peace talks in Doha in order to put an end to the Afghan conflict, a source said, adding that the meeting has been coordinated with the United States.

The Afghan government has so far not commented on whether it will participate or not. However, the Taliban has said that they are assessing the invitation.

Some analysts believe that Moscow’s invitation to Afghan politicians is aimed to put pressure on the politicians to accept the US-proposed peace plan.

Meanwhile, Ned Price, the Spokesperson for the US Department of State, said that the US is committed to the protection of gains made by the Afghans in the past two decades.

“We are trying to support and do everything we can to support the parties, doing everything we can to bring our international allies, to bring our international partners, to bring others in the region together to make clear that all of us have a stake in Afghanistan’s future security, stability, ensuring the durability of the gains including the important gains for women and girls that have been achieved,” said Ned Price.

Meanwhile, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US top envoy for Afghan peace, after meeting Taliban and republic negotiators in Doha travelled to Islamabad where he met senior Pakistani officials including Army Chief General Qamar Jawed Bajwa.

“The US is seeking support from the region and the world, therefore, he (Khalilzad) traveled to Pakistan,” said Pakistani journalist Tahir Khan.

Sources have said that Khalilzad returned to Doha after meeting Pakistani officials.