US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad meets Afghan Taliban in Doha

Afghan Taliban say both sides expressed their commitment to Doha agreement and discussed its implementation

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar (right), the leader of the Taliban delegation, and Zalmay Khalilzad (left), US envoy for peace in Afghanistan, shake hands after signing an agreement at a ceremony between members of Afghanistan's Taliban and the US in Doha, Qatar February 29, 2020. Photo: Reuters

  • Afghan Taliban spokesman says Zalmay Khalilzad and top US general in Afghanistan met with group's negotiating team in Doha late Friday.
  • Meeting came after Zalmay Khalilzad met Afghan leaders in Kabul earlier this week
  • This is Zalmay Khalilzad's first public visit to Qatar since US President Joe Biden took office.

DOHA: In a bid to restart the stalled peace talks and meet the deadline for troop withdrawal, the US special envoy to Afghanistan held talks with the Afghan Taliban in Qatar, the Taliban announced on Saturday.

The US envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, had held talks earlier this week with Afghan leaders in Kabul, including President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, chair of Afghanistan's High Council for National Reconciliation which oversees the government's talks with the Taliban in Qatar.

Taliban spokesman Muhamad Naeem tweeted that Khalilzad and the top US general in Afghanistan met with the group's negotiating team in Doha, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, late Friday.

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"Both sides expressed their commitment to the Doha agreement and discussed its full implementation. Likewise, the current situation of Afghanistan and the rapidity and effectiveness of the Intra-Afghan negotiations were discussed," he wrote.

Speculation is rife over America's future in Afghanistan, after the White House announced plans to review a withdrawal deal brokered by Khalilzad and the Taliban in Doha last year.

Under that agreement, the US is set to withdraw from Afghanistan in May, but a surge in fighting has sparked concerns as peace talks between the Kabul government and Taliban continue to stall.

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The accord states that the US will withdraw all troops from Afghanistan, with the Taliban promising not to allow territory to be used by terrorists — the original goal of the US invasion following the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Khalilzad's visit marks the first time he has publicly returned to Qatar since US President Joe Biden took office in January and asked him to stay on in his post.