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U.S. Peace Envoy Khalilzad Makes Surprise Stop In Kabul

U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad (file photo)
U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad (file photo)

U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Kabul on December 4 at the start of his latest round of talks to find a solution to the 18-year Afghan conflict.

Khalilzad held talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other senior officials before flying to Doha, in Qatar, where he will restart talks with the Taliban, according to a U.S. State Department statement.

The talks would be the first official round of negotiations since September when President Donald Trump abruptly canceled negotiations with the militants after a surge in violence killed 12 people in Kabul, including a U.S. soldier.

Ghani repeated his call for a cease-fire during his meeting with Khalilzad.

A Taliban official speaking on condition of anonymity said the group has held informal talks with the Americans, without specifying the location or who participated.

Khalilzad's visit comes just days after Trump visited U.S. troops in Afghanistan for the Thanksgiving holiday, when he indicated a resumption of peace talks with the Taliban was possible.

Trump said the U.S. and Taliban had been engaged in negotiations and insisted the militants want to make a deal after heavy U.S. fire in recent months.

The State Department statement said Khalilzad's Kabul and Doha talks are a follow-up to Trump's recent visit and to discuss how best to support accelerated efforts to get all parties to intra-Afghan negotiations."

In Doha, Khalilzad will be pushing for a cease-fire or at least a reduction in violence with an eye to an eventual end to fighting.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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