US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad

US envoy Khalilzad will attend Moscow conference on Afghan peace

The US Department of State has said that the country’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad will attend the Moscow conference on the Afghan peace process which is scheduled for Thursday, March 18, Reuters reported today.

The Moscow conference will “complement all other international efforts to support the Afghanistan peace process and also reflects the international community’s concerns about progress to date,” Reuters quoted deputy State Department spokeswoman Jalina Porter as saying at a news briefing.

At odds with other disputed international issues existing between Washington and Moscow, the two key players in Afghanistan are now engaging in a cooperative manner to push the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban to agree on a political settlement.

The US Biden Administration has apparently accelerated its Afghan peace efforts on an unprecedented scale with an already proposed draft peace agreement to the Afghan negotiating parties. Establishing an interim-government and brokering a reduction in violence agreement—much like a ceasefire—are the two key components of the draft agreement among many.

Since March 01, Khalilzad has so far held extensive talks in Kabul with government leaders and political figures and with the Taliban political leadership and as well as with some regional diplomats regarding the Afghan peace process in Doha.

Khalilzad arrived in Kabul yesterday, March 15, from Doha and held separate meetings with President Ghani and Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation (HCNR) Abdullah Abdullah. According to statements issued by the office of the HCNR and the Presidential Palace, they have discussed recent developments in the peace process and also the next steps in meeting with the US peace envoy.

“We discussed the #PeaceProcess, new initiatives, latest political developments& steps forward. We reiterated our call for a political settlement & acceleration of the peace efforts,” Abdullah said about his meeting with Khalilzad in a tweet.

The Presidential Palace said that Khalilzad “briefed the President about his recent travels and activities” and both sides exchanged views regarding the peace process and the next steps.

In the upcoming Moscow conference, which is the third conference hosted by Russia regarding the Afghan peace process, Russia has invited representatives from the Afghan government, the Taliban, some Afghan political figures, and some regional countries including Pakistan and China.

Though it has officially not been confirmed that who will represent the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in the conference, some media have reported that the Republic delegation will be headed by Abdullah. Former President Hamid Karzai and Mohammad Karim Khalili are among political figures invited to attend the conference.

The Taliban have confirmed that a 10-member delegation of the group will attend the upcoming conference under the leadership of its deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.