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Taliban deal: US envoy meets Afghan president, former rival as Kabul ends political impasse

20 May 2020 RT - Russia Today

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his former rival Abdullah Abdullah on Wednesday to discuss progress towards a peace deal with the insurgent Taliban.

The meeting was the first between the three men since Ghani and Abdullah ended a months-long political impasse in which both claimed to be Afghanistan’s rightful leader. The pair struck a power-sharing agreement on Sunday, removing a major obstacle to the US-brokered peace process. Abdullah was appointed head of a reconciliation council designated to hold talks with the Taliban, Reuters said.

Ghani said that during his meeting with Khalilzad, shortly before the three men met, they had discussed a ceasefire with the Taliban. They also discussed how to continue with a prisoner swap that the Taliban have demanded before beginning talks.

The president’s statement made no mention of a $1 billion aid cut the US announced in March when Abdullah and Ghani failed to strike a deal, which officials have asked to be reinstated.

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