The U.S. peace envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, says the United States is not “cutting and running” from the war-torn country as it negotiates a peace agreement with the Taliban.
Khalilzad’s prerecorded video statement, shown at a conference held at Georgetown University in Washington on July 11, came two days after the Taliban and a delegation representing Afghan society agreed at talks in Qatar on a road map for a future political settlement in what was seen as a major step toward ending Afghanistan’s nearly 18-year war.
“We would like to leave a very positive legacy here,” Khalilzad said. “We are not cutting and running. We’re not looking for a withdrawal agreement. We’re looking for a peace agreement. And we’re looking for a long-term relationship and partnership with Afghanistan.”
Khalilzad has held eight rounds of peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar, describing the latest round that ended on July 9 as the “most productive” ever.
In his video statement, Khalilzad said that “we have made substantial progress” on four key issues.
Those issues include the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, a permanent cease-fire, a Taliban guarantee that Afghanistan will not be used as a base for attacks in other countries, and an inter-Afghan dialogue that leads to a political settlement.
The Taliban has so far refused to hold direct negotiations with the Afghan government, although Khalilzad said he expected those to begin in the “near future.”
Khalilzad departed for China on July 9 from where he said he would return to Washington.
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