US launches new push on Afghan peace talks

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 11.06.2019 00:01

Renewed efforts are underway to jumpstart stalled peace talks with the Taliban as a U.S. envoy was in Kabul and Pakistani and Afghan officials met in Islamabad.

Zalmay Khalilzad, Washington's top envoy for Afghanistan, said he held meetings with Kabul officials yesterday, seeking to bring about a new round of Afghan-to-Afghan talks, which he describes as essential to resolving the country's nearly 18-year war.

The Taliban carry out near-daily attack, inflicting staggering casualties on Afghan forces, and now control about half of Afghanistan. Washington, meanwhile, has accelerated efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict and has been pressing for direct talks between the Taliban and Kabul. Meanwhile, Afghan and Pakistani officials from a group tasked with finding ways to cooperate on diplomatic, military and intelligence-sharing are meeting in Islamabad.

The U.S. envoy has so far held at least six rounds of talks with the Taliban since taking charge in September last year, but the Taliban continue to refuse pressing demands for cease-fire in Afghanistan. Last month, Khalilzad had expressed dissatisfaction over the pace of these talks. The annual fighting season is in full swing in war-ravaged Afghanistan as the warring sides failed to reach an agreement for cease-fire in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

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