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Khalilzad releases details of meetings with Taliban, Afghan officials

21 May 2020 1TV News

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has said that he discussed violence reduction and prisoner releases in his meetings with Taliban and Afghan government leaders.

Khalilzad said that in his meeting with Taliban deputy leader Mullah Baradar and members of their political commission, he emphasized the US-Taliban agreement is inter-connected on issues of counter-terrorism, intra-Afghan negotiations, troop withdrawal and gradual violence reduction leading to permanent ceasefire.

"All sides have implementation requirements on all fronts including on prisoner releases by the Afghan government and the Taliban," Khalilzad said in a series of tweets.

He also raised missing Americans Mark Frerichs and Paul Overby as well as "our concerns about recent Taliban attacks in Kunduz, Ghazni, & Khost. We discussed their concerns with President Ghani's ordering offensive attacks."

He told the Taliban that violence by all sides must fall. "Innocent Afghans have borne far too much and for too long the costs of this war."

The Taliban expressed their commitment to the agreement and its implementation. They said they would do all they could to locate missing US citizens. They will consult their leadership on the next step.

In Kabul, Khalilzad met with President Ashraf Ghani and Chairman of High Council for National Reconciliation Abdullah Abdullah and congratulated them on their agreement to form an inclusive government.

The envoy said that they discussed next steps required to implement the agreement between the two leaders. "On peace, we agreed that violence is much too high and there is a need to move urgently to reduce it by all sides," he said.

"We also agreed on the importance of delivering (and soon) on other commitments made in the US-Taliban agreement and US-Afghanistan joint declaration including release of prisoners by both sides and the start of intra-Afghan negotiations," Khalilzad said.

In a separate meeting with Abdullah, Khalilzad discussed Abdullah's plans for operationalizing his new role and "will be working closely with him and his team."

Meanwhile, Ghani's office said that during his meeting with Khalilzad, shortly before the three men met, they had discussed a ceasefire with the Taliban.

"Both sides talked about the upcoming steps for the peace process and both sides stressed the issue of a ceasefire or reduction in violence before the start of direct talks," Ghani's statement said, adding they discussed also the need for the Afghan government and the Taliban to agree on a mechanism for release of prisoners.

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