Pakistan makes formal offer to Afghan Taliban

Pakistan makes formal offer to Afghan Taliban
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*ISLAMABAD - The Taliban said Wednesday that its negotiators would meet US envoys for talks this month in Islamabad, and also sit down with Prime Minister Imran Khan to discuss Afghanistan.*

The announcement, not immediately confirmed by Washington or Islamabad, comes as America’s chief negotiator tours the globe shoring up support for a peace process to end its longest war.

Zalmay Khalilzad, a former ambassador to Afghanistan, held extensive talks with the militants last month in Qatar, where the Taliban have an office.

More talks are slated for later in February.

But a Taliban statement issued Wednesday said separate meetings would be held first on February 18 in Islamabad “by the formal invitation of the government of Pakistan”.

Talks in Doha would follow a week later on February 25, the statement said.

Khalilzad is heading a large delegation on a tour of Belgium, Germany, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan and Pakistan to boost the peace process and bring all Afghan parties to the table.

He has expressed cautious hope for a deal before Afghan presidential elections slated for July, but says the Taliban must come to the table with the Kabul government, which the insurgents consider a US puppet.

Foreign Policy