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Taliban Delegation Meets With Senior Uzbek Officials

FILE: In March Tashkent hosted a multilateral meeting aiming to facilitate direct talks between Afghan government and the Taliban.

Taliban and Uzbek officials say the head of the Taliban’s political office in Qatar traveled to Uzbekistan last week where he led a delegation for talks with senior officials from Uzbekistan’s Foreign Ministry.

The talks focused on a range of issues, including the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan and Uzbek development projects in Afghanistan, a Taliban official said in a statement to RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal.

“The Afghan peace process, withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, and restoration of peace were also brought under discussion,” the Taliban statement said.

The statement said Taliban political chief Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai represented the militant group in the four-day talks that, according to the Taliban, included meetings with Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov as well as its special representative to Afghanistan, Ismatilla Irgashev.

The Taliban delegation stayed in Uzbekistan from August 6-10, the statement said.

The Uzbek Foreign Ministry's website offered a two-line announcement on the visit saying "the sides exchanged views on prospects of the peace process in Afghanistan."

There was no immediate reaction from Afghan officials.

The Afghan government has been struggling to fend off the Taliban and other militant groups since the withdrawal of most NATO troops in 2014.

The Taliban has ignored an offer by the government for direct peace negotiations.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal and AP