Washington: The United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad departed for Doha, Islamabad and Tashkent on Sunday to garner support to meet the remaining commitments ahead of intra-Afghan negotiations, specifically reduced violence and timely prisoner releases.
“US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad departed on June 28 for travel to Doha, Islamabad and Tashkent. At all three locations, Ambassador Khalilzad will urge support for all Afghans to meet their remaining commitments ahead of intra-Afghan negotiations, specifically reduced violence and timely prisoner releases,” the US State Department said in a statement.
Khalilzad is joined by US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) CEO Adam Boehler and his team.
“Afghan peace, economic growth, and regional connectivity are closely linked and mutually supportive. The delegation will explore investment opportunities and partnerships in a range of sectors to advance the economic recovery of Afghanistan and support sustained peace and stability in the region,” the department said.
The intra-Afghan talks were initially set to commence on March 10, under the US-Taliban peace deal, but were pushed back due to disagreements over the mutual release of prisoners. The Taliban, in particular, demanded that Kabul free all 5,000 prisoners at once.
However, the prisoner exchanges that have been taking place over the last few months, as well as the Eid al-Fitr ceasefire, demonstrated some potential for a breakthrough in the Afghan peace process.
Last week, Khalilzad said that intra-Afghan talks are closer than ever, praising Kabul for freeing over 3,000 Taliban prisoners and the Taliban for releasing more than 500 government prisoners.
“Due to the challenges of travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ambassador Khalilzad, CEO Boehler and their delegation will also conduct meetings with Afghan officials throughout the trip remotely via video,” the statement further said.