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US special envoy for Afghan reconciliation briefs Sushma Swaraj on Taliban talks

Zalmay Khalilzad briefed external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on his talks with the Taliban and the two leaders discussed the role of regional players in ensuring peace in Afghanistan.

india Updated: May 06, 2019 23:44 IST
Rezaul H Laskar
Rezaul H Laskar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
US special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj  in Delhi on Monday.
US special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in Delhi on Monday.(MEA PHOTO)
         

The US special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, on Monday briefed external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj on his talks with the Taliban and the two leaders discussed the role of regional players in ensuring peace in the war-torn country.

Khalilzad, who skipped India on his last two multi-nation tours, is visiting New Delhi at a time when talks between the US and the Taliban have bogged down over two issues – the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s reluctance to agree to a ceasefire.

There was no official word on the meeting though external affairs ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted Khalilzad had briefed Swaraj on peace efforts in Afghanistan against the backdrop of the latest US-Taliban meeting at Doha in Qatar.

“Both discussed role of all regional stakeholders in bringing peace & development in Afghanistan. India will work with key partners in days ahead,” he added.

Khalilzad, who is on a two-day visit, is expected to meet foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale and other officials on Tuesday. Before travelling to India, Khalilzad met top officials in Afghanistan and Pakistan last week. He met Swaraj and Gokhale during a trip to New Delhi in January, but skipped India during two multi-nation tours in February and March.

During the ongoing sixth round of talks in Doha, the two sides are stuck on the issue of withdrawal of US and foreign forces, with America insisting a deal should include a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire. The US also wants the Taliban to join an intra-Afghan dialogue with politicians and civil society representatives – a stance backed by New Delhi.

The Taliban have said they won’t discuss a truce or intra-Afghan dialogue before the US announces a troop withdrawal.

India is concerned by a recent spike in violence by the Taliban, including the spring offensive launched on April 12 and the failure to agree to a truce, people familiar with developments said. It is also opposed to the formation of any interim government and any possible deal with the Taliban that alters the structure of the Afghan Constitution or erodes the gains made over the past 17 years, especially in terms of the democratic set-up and rights of women and minorities, they said.

First Published: May 06, 2019 23:44 IST

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