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Saturday, April 10, 2021

UN envoy to Afghanistan meets Taliban delegation in Qatar

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The envoy’s visit comes amid increasing international pressure to push the delayed talks between the Afghan Government and the Taliban.

UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons held meetings with the Taliban’s delegation in Qatar on Tuesday, during a visit to push forward stalled intra-Afghan talks.

According to Al Jazeera, the UN official held discussions with the Taliban to seek direct negotiations with the militant group.

Reuters said the envoy will be meeting with US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and Qatari officials during her “crucial” visit to the Gulf state, which will determine the fate of the talks amid ongoing escalations in Kabul.

Khalilzad landed in Qatar on Thursday with proposals to push the peace process which has faced several hurdles since it was launched in September last year. Among the proposals is the formation of an interim government, The Wall Street Journal [WSJ] reported on Friday.

Read also: Russia to host Afghan summit to jumpstart peace process

However, the White House said in a statement that the latest report “does not accurately capture the state of play” and that the US “is not making any formal proposals and is continuing to review all relevant options for future force posture”.

Meanwhile, pressure to move towards ending the war between the Afghan government and the Taliban continues to mount and more international players are being added to the mix.

On Tuesday, Russia said it will be hosting an Afghan meeting on March 18 in efforts to discuss ways to help advance the Doha-based intra-Afghan talks.

The meeting will be attended by representatives of the Afghan Government, the Taliban,  Russia, the United State, China and Pakistan, Maria Zakharova announced, according to state-run TASS news agency.

Qatar will attend as an “honoured guest” due to its role in hosting several rounds of the historic talks in its capital since 2019, the Associated Press [AP] reported.

The Moscow meeting, the second since 2019, will also discuss ways to “reduce the level of violence and end the armed conflict in Afghanistan and help it develop as an independent, peaceful and self-sufficient state that would be free from terrorism and drug trafficking”, the AP quoted Zakharova as saying.

Meanwhile, a February US-Taliban agreement that could see the complete withdrawal of NATO and American troops from Afghanistan by May 1st stands at risk as militant attacks continue to rock Kabul.


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