Taliban meet US peace envoy for first time since Trump declared deal 'dead'
The Taliban met with U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in Pakistan on Friday in the first such meeting since President Trump declared Afghan peace talks “dead,” according to reports.
Khalilzad and Taliban officials met in Islamabad but the U.S. has said peace talks have not resumed, the Associated Press reported.
Trump decided to cancel the peace negotiations with the Taliban came amid reports of a seemingly imminent peace deal. He called them off following a deadly Taliban bombing in Kabul that killed a U.S. soldier
The president’s decision scrapped a secret Camp David meeting he intended to hold with a Taliban representative just before the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Reuters reported that the two sides first met in Islamabad on Thursday for an hour.
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“The Taliban officials held a meeting with Zalmay Khalilzad ... all I can tell you is that Pakistan played a big role in it to convince them how important it was for the peace process,” a senior Pakistan official told Reuters.
Sediq Sediqqi, spokesman for President Ashraf Ghani, said the Afghan government is committed to the peace process, but one led and "owned" by the Afghan government, the Associated Press reported. Such a peace process will lead to a "lasting and dignified peace in Afghanistan," he said.
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Sediqqi said Taliban meetings in Islamabad or anywhere else will not help the Afghan peace process and in fact, will encourage the Taliban to commit more violence.
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The AP reported that the meeting was significant as the United States seeks an exit from Afghanistan's 18-year war.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.