Afghan peace process: Taliban, US envoy visit Pakistan


A delegation of Afghan Taliban will visit Pakistan on Wednesday, a day after top U.S. peace negotiator Zalmay Khalilzad arrived in Islamabad, a Taliban spokesman said.

The delegation will meet Pakistani leadership to discuss the stalled peace talks with the U.S. and issues faced by Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

“Our 11 member delegation will visit Islamabad today on the invitation of the Pakistani government,” Zabihullah Mujahid, Afghan Taliban spokesman, told Anadolu Agency over the phone.

Last month Pakistan extended an invitation for a visit to Islamabad, he added.

Recently Taliban leaders visited China, Russia and Iran after U.S. President Donald Trump abruptly canceled the peace talks with the group.

“Our leaders will discuss the recent peace talks with the U.S. and its cancellation with Pakistani officials,” Zabihullah said, adding that the issues Afghan refugees face in Pakistan would also be discussed.

Zalmay Khalilzad, a top U.S. peace negotiator, has also arrived in Islamabad late Tuesday, according to local media.

He arrived in Islamabad as Pakistan was trying to bring Taliban leader Baradar to Islamabad for a possible meeting with Khalilzad, a leading Pakistan English daily, Dawn, reported.

But Taliban spokesman denied any scheduled meeting with the U.S. envoy Khalilzad in Islamabad.

“I have no information about the arrival of Khalilzad in Islamabad and there is no meeting scheduled with him during our delegation’s visit to Pakistan,” Zabihullah said.

On Sept. 9, Trump abruptly cancelled a meeting with the representatives of the Taliban and the Afghan government, planned in his country retreat Camp David.

Trump said that the peace talks with the Taliban are “dead”, and the decision was made in retaliation for a recent attack in Afghanistan’s Kabul, which killed a dozen people, including a U.S. service member.

The raging Afghan conflict is in its 18th year, with thousands of lives lost and millions forced to flee their homes. The UN repeatedly calls for an urgent need to seize opportunities for peace in the region.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan last month asked Trump to restart peace talks with the Taliban during their meeting on the sideline of the UN General Assembly session in New York.
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