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World

Web Desk
February 9, 2019

US lauds Pak efforts for Afghan peace process, seeks deal with Taliban

World

Web Desk
Sat, Feb 09, 2019

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration's peace envoy for Afghanistan lauded Pakistan for its efforts in Afghan peace process as the country had played a major role to arrange crucial peace talks between the United States and Afghan Taliban.

  Zalmay Khalilzad, a former US ambassador to Afghanistan who is now special envoy in the talks, has recently held meetings with Pakistani officials to discuss ongoing talks for restoring peace in the war-torn country. 

Commending Pakistan's role in Afghan peace process, the envoy  said that Pakistan is an important country, adding that Washington wants to improve its ties with Islamabad.

Speaking at the US Institute of Peace, Zalmay  said that there is time to make a final deal before Afghanistan's presidential election in July. But he also stressed that many issues remain to be resolved and that it must be a package deal.

"It will be better for Afghanistan if we could a get peace agreement before the election, which is scheduled before July," the US negotiator told a Washington conference, adding that there remained "a lot of work" to do.

The US envoy held meetings with Taliban officials in Qatar, where the group´s senior leaders have an office in the capital Doha.

He has expressed cautious optimism about the prospect of a deal, and even announced a draft framework, but stressed nothing had been finalized.

Critics are skeptical about the talks for a number of reasons, primarily because they have not yet included the Afghan government.

Additionally, the Taliban have promised not to provide shelter again to foreign extremists.

The talks come as President Donald Trump pushes to end the Afghanistan conflict, where about 14,000 US troops are still deployed and which has seen countless thousands of civilian and military deaths, as well as an infusion of more than $1 trillion in US cash into the country.

In his annual State of the Union speech on Tuesday, Trump said the time has come "to at least try for peace."

Afghanistan has suffered nearly constant conflict since the Soviet invasion of 1979, which was followed by civil war, the Taliban regime, and the US invasion in late 2001.