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Taliban Representatives Report Meeting With Khalilzad In Pakistan

04 Oct 2019 Radio Free Europe

Taliban negotiators say they have met in Pakistan with Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. peace envoy for Afghanistan, for the first time since President Donald Trump in September called the peace process “dead.”

A Taliban representative on October 5 said the meeting took place between Khalilzad and the Taliban delegation led by Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a co-founder of the extremist group.

The representative did not offer further details of the meeting, which he said took place in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, and he did not characterize the event as a “negotiation.”

U.S. officials did not confirm the meeting.

U.S. officials have been adamant that there have been no new negotiations between the sides since Trump on September 9 cited an attack that killed an American soldier as his reason for calling off negotiations.

The Taliban delegation was in Pakistan to conduct talks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi in Islamabad in an effort to revive the Afghan peace talks.

Khalilzad was in Islamabad at the same time for "consultations" with the Pakistan government. Officials called it a “coincidence,” but a Taliban spokesman left open the possibility of a meeting with the U.S. special envoy.

Khalilzad has held a series of negotiations with the Taliban in Qatar and announced an agreement "in principle" with the militant group before Trump’s decision to end talks.

The Taliban have so far refused to talk directly with the Afghan government, calling it a “puppet” of foreign powers.

Kabul has been angered by being excluded from the talks on its future and said the Taliban delegation’s visit to Pakistan would not help bring peace to Afghanistan.

An Afghan presidential spokesman told a news conference in Kabul that Pakistan’s move to host a group that engages in violence and destruction is contrary to the principles of good relations between the countries.

With reporting by RFE/RL’s Afghan Service, AP, and Reuters

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Original Link: https://www.rferl.org/a/taliban-pakistan-meeting-khalilzad-afghanistan/30200307.html

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