After a week of marathon talks in Doha among Afghans, the U.S. Special Envoy for Reconciliation to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, reassured that the U.S. is not “running and cutting” from Afghanistan. Mr. Khalilzad was speaking to an audience at Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security at Georgetown University, via a video link from Qatar. Mr. Khalilzad mentioned that the U.S. wants to leave a “very positive legacy” in Afghanistan. He also assured the audience that “women will be at the table. They were present for the conference and we will make sure they have a seat or several seats at the negotiating table.” He emphasized that “any successful society needs to empower its women. There has to be equality before the law for all citizens. My commitment to them remains that they will have a place at the negotiating table.”

Mr. Khalilzad also stated that, “we (U.S.) look forward to a long term relationship of friendship and partnership with Afghanistan. We would like to leave a very positive legacy here. We are not cutting and running. We are not looking for a withdrawal agreement. We are looking for a peace agreement. And we are looking for a long term relationship of partnership with Afghanistan.”

Mr. Khalilzad has held eight rounds of peace talks with the Taliban as well as meetings with many of the regional players and NATO allies. The latest round of these talks, which were held July 7-9, was considered to be the “most productive.” In his video speech, he reiterated that in their talks with the Taliban, they have made “substantial progress” on four elements, including, “that Afghanistan will not be a threat to the international community, particularly to the United States and allies, but also to other countries. Second, is that the Taliban are interested in our military posture in Afghanistan. Third, is the need for Afghans to dialogue with each other and to negotiate a road map for their own future, and the fourth element is a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire to end the fighting.”

Earlier in the week, negotiations to end the Afghanistan war took a step forward as well. Around 60 Afghan delegates, 10 of them women, and 17 members of the Taliban participated in the first intra-Afghan peace talks in Doha. The 60 members were government officials, civil society representatives, human and women’s rights activists and former politicians, all participating in their personal capacity.

The Taliban continue to refuse to meet with the Afghan government officials in their official capacity. Although informal, this was the first major meeting of the Taliban members with Afghans from different backgrounds and generations, including those who staunchly defend the progress achieved in Afghanistan.

 

Media Resources: Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security 7/11/19

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