Saturday Oct 13, 2018
WASHINGTON: The US envoy for Afghanistan peace efforts met with Taliban representatives in Qatar on Friday as President Donald Trump’s administration pushed to find a way to end the 17-year-old Afghan war, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Journal, citing a person familiar with the gathering, said Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, met with Taliban officials in Doha — the second time in four months that American officials have held face-to-face talks with Taliban representatives.
The Journal said it was not clear what the two sides discussed. Khalilzad, who is trying to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, is currently on his first trip as the special representative. His 11-day trip was to take him to Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
The State Department declined to say whether the meeting with Taliban officials in Doha took place.
“We can’t confirm specific meetings or the content of diplomatic conversations,” said a State Department spokesperson, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
“Special Representative Khalilzad held a number of meetings with a wide range of stakeholders as part of his trip to explore how best to reach a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan,” the spokesperson added.
Alice Wells, the State Department's deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asia, met Taliban officials in Doha in July for what were described as talks about talks. A Taliban official who was part of the four-person delegation to that meeting said it produced “very positive signals”.
A US-led coalition forced the Taliban from power in 2001 in the aftermath of the 9/11 al-Qaeda attacks on Washington and New York. Taliban officials want the withdrawal of American forces and a government in Kabul that reflects the group’s view.