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US special envoy in Kabul amid renewed push for deal

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Khalilzad and President Ghani discussed several topics including the need for a ceasefire

AFP , Wednesday 18 Dec 2019
U.S. special representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad (L), shakes hands with Afghanistan
U.S. special representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad (L), with Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah in Kabul, Afghanistan September 2, 2019. (Reuters)
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The US special envoy leading negotiations with the Taliban met with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul on Wednesday, an official said, amid a renewed push to reach an accord with the insurgents.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and Ghani discussed several topics including the need for a ceasefire, Ghani's spokesman Sediq Seddiqi said.

"The president also expressed his concerns about the continued violence by the Taliban," Sediqqi said.

"The president reiterated that the government and people of Afghanistan want a sustainable peace."

Khalilzad has spent more than a year leading a push for a deal with the Taliban that would see the US reduce its military footprint in Afghanistan in return for security guarantees from the insurgents.

While the US has kept Ghani apprised of developments, the Afghan president has been cut out of negotiations because the Taliban refuse to recognise his authority.

A US-Taliban deal had been all but signed in early September, but President Donald Trump scuttled the agreement at the last minute, citing concerns about ongoing Taliban violence including a Kabul bombing that killed an American soldier.

Talks resumed December 7 amid a reduction in violence in Kabul but were paused following another Taliban attack, this time at Bagram air base north of Kabul.

The US embassy in Kabul declined to comment immediately, but talks appear to have resumed again this week in Doha.

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