The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has arrived back to Kabul following a short visit to Doha and has met with President Ghani, the Presidential Palace said.
In Doha, Khalilzad met senior Taliban officials and discussed issues regarding the implementation of the US-Taliban peace deal, a reduction in violence, and the intra-Afghan talks.
Previously, the US State Department said that Khalilzad will press the Afghan leaders to begin intra-Afghan talks.
President Ghani met with Khalilzad and discussed the next steps in the peace process, and both sides insisted on a ceasefire or a reduction in violence ahead of the intra-Afghan negotiations, the Presidential Palace said on Wednesday.
“Both the Afghan government and the Taliban need to show some flexibility. The US should mediate, there is also a need to attain the confidence of the regional and neighboring countries because peace is not possible in Afghanistan without the support of all,” said Qazi Mohammad Amin Weqad, the former member of the High Peace Council.
“The expectation of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the people of Afghanistan from the international (peace) efforts is that they (the Taliban) stop violence,” said Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani.
On his Eid message, the Taliban’s top leader, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, called on the US to ensure the full implementation of the Doha peace agreement, and to prevent attempts by other parties who– according to him–want to disrupt the peace process.
“We want to tell the US officials not to allow anyone to delay, restrict or scuttle the agreement between us and you–which also has international recognition. In the agreement, every issue has been explained in a clear manner, it has defined a good framework which is in the interest of the two nations in order to resolve the problems,” the Taliban’s message reads.
Meanwhile, Pakistani president Arif Alavi has said that Pakistan will continue its efforts for peace in Afghanistan.
“Pakistan welcomed the recent peace efforts in Afghanistan, aimed at ensuring bringing stability to the conflict-hit country,” said Alavi as quoted by APP.
“The Taliban are gravely concerned about the agreement signed with the US. Various countries and NATO are concerned about the continuation of violence,” said Sami Yousufzai, freelance journalist in Doha.
The Afghan government has persistently urged the Taliban to agree on a ceasefire and reduce hostilities.
“The Afghan people want the Taliban to denounce violence, agree on a ceasefire and enter into talks with the government,” said Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani.
Khalilzad’s peace efforts come at a time that the scale of violence has significantly increased in Afghanistan over the past few months and Afghan president Ghani recently ordered the country’s armed forces to return to “offense mode” and defend the nation against potential threats.