US representative Zalmay Khalilzad to be back to focus on intra-Afghan dialogue

File photo of US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Kabul, Afghanistan Feb 11, 2019, 06.42 AM (IST) Praphul Singh , Sidhant Sibal

United States Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad will be back in the region during which he will be visiting six countries - Belgium, Germany, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

The visit from 10th February to 28th February, according to a State Department release is "part of an overall effort to facilitate a peace process that protects US national security interests and brings all Afghan parties together in an intra-Afghan dialogue through which they can determine a path for their country’s future."

The State Department added, "He will meet with our allies and partners to discuss mutual efforts to advance that goal and will consult with the Afghan government throughout the trip."

The US will be keen to focus on intra-Afghan dialogue given the fact that Moscow just hosted a dialogue involving the Taliban and opposition leaders including former President Hamid Karzai, former national security advisor Haneef Atmar and ex-governor of Balkh province Ata Mohammad Noor.

On February 25th, Zalmay will be meeting the Taliban.

The Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid earlier this  month speaking exclusively to WION had said, "A meeting has been arranged on February 25th," while explaining "from the initial agreement we reached with the United States, they seem to have shown readiness to leave Afghanistan and put an end to their occupation."

Last month a number of parleys between US special envoy and Taliban took place which seemed to suggest both are working on a pact, the details of which are not known.

Speaking at an event last Friday in Washington, Zalmay said overall goal is "not to seek out withdrawal agreement" but a "peace agreement." He hoped to reach an agreement before the July vote in the landlocked South Asian country.

The last time when he visited the region in January, Zalmay started his visit from New Delhi and had met external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale during which India raised the issue of destabilising role Pakistan in the region. India also called on the US to safeguard current political and constitutional structure in the country.