US Special Representative embarks on new trip to press for intra-Afghan talks

Zalmay Khalilzad

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has embarked on a new five-nation trip to press for intra-Afghan talks, the State Department said.

In a statement on Saturday, the Department said that Khalilzad left on Friday for Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Norway, Pakistan and Qatar, reports TOLO News.

In Doha and Kabul, Khalilzad will press for resolution of the remaining issues ahead of intra-Afghan negotiations, specifically final prisoner exchanges and reduced violence, according to the statement.

In Islamabad, he will seek Pakistani support in the effort to advance intra-Afghan negotiations.

In Oslo and Sofia, Khalilzad will update NATO Allies on the Afghan peace process, it said.

“The parties are closer than ever to the start of Intra-Afghan Negotiations, the key next step to ending Afghanistan’s 40-year long war,” TOLO News quoted the statement as saying, adding that “although significant progress has been made on prisoner exchanges, the issue requires additional effort to fully resolve”.

Under the US-Taliban peace deal that was signed in Doha, the Taliban demanded the release of 5,000 inmates, and the Afghan government has so far released 4,245.

In exchange, the Taliban has released over 860 government hostages, out of 1,000 total mentioned in the agreement.

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