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U.S. Envoy On Afghanistan Starts Regional Tour After Taliban Talks Cancelled

U.S. special envoy on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad
U.S. special envoy on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad

KABUL -- The U.S. special envoy on Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, has begun a two-week diplomatic tour of Afghanistan and other countries in the region in an attempt to push forward the peace process with the Taliban.

Khalilzad began his latest diplomatic mission on January 8 -- the same day that Taliban representatives announced that they would not attend peace talks in Qatar planned for January 9 and 10 with Khalilzad and other U.S. officials.

Khalilzad’s tour is meant to take him to Kabul as well as China, Pakistan, and India.

The U.S. State Department says his visits will last through January 21.

Khalilzad met Taliban representatives in Abu Dhabi in December.

But a Taliban representative in Qatar told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan on January 8 that it had "postponed" a January 9-10 meeting with Khalilzad "until further consultations" could resolve an "agenda disagreement."

Another Taliban source said the disagreement focused on Washington's insistence that Afghan government officials must be involved in the talks.

He said there was also disagreement on a possible cease-fire deal and a proposed prisoner exchange.

The Taliban has consistently rejected requests from regional powers to allow Afghan government officials to take part in peace talks, insisting that the United States is their main adversary in Afghanistan.

With additional reporting by Reuters

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