US peace envoy on new trip to region to jumpstart Afghan talks
The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad departed for Turkey and the region to accelerate the intra-Afghan peace talks, the US Department of State said in a press note released on Sunday, March 27.
“He [Khalilzad] will engage the two sides on their preparatory efforts for talks on a political settlement that produces a permanent ceasefire and a durable and just peace,”
The US peace envoy will also meet with stakeholders to discuss how the regional nations and international community can facilitate talks between the sides.
This comes as the Istanbul conference on the Afghan peace process is expected to be held in April that would be attended by high-level delegations of the Afghan sides, regional countries, the United States, and the United Nations.
In an interview with BBC Persian, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah has said that the Istanbul conference will determine the fate of the country.
The upcoming conference has already been highlighted as a turning point for the Afghan peace process as it will put forward the US proposal of a draft peace agreement for negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban in presence of the regional players. The US proposal includes establishing an interim administration and brokering a ceasefire between the Afghan warring sides.
The proposal, however, has been followed by serious criticisms by the Afghan government and its leading officials.
In the latest counter-attempts to the proposal, President Ghani has prepared a counter-offer to the US in which he will propose holding an early presidential election in the upcoming Istanbul conference if the Taliban agree to a ceasefire, Reuters reported on March 23.
When asked about Ghani’s counter-offer, Abdullah said that a premature election would be held if the Taliban showed readiness.