United States seeking peace agreement in Afghanistan: Khalilzad

U.S. Army General Joseph Votel commander U.S. Central Command

U.S. Army General Joseph Votel commander U.S. Central Command

US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad denied this assertion, tweeting: "I've heard some Taliban officials claim we have a troop withdrawal timetable for Afghanistan. What we've achieved so far is significant, but they are two or three small steps in a long journey". Sources caution its help could be temporary.

He said an American withdrawal from Afghanistan was not the main aim of the talks, but to bring an end to the country's 17-year war.

Nothing is agreed to until everything has been agreed to and the other issues that must be dealt with are issues of a roadmap for Afghanistan political future to end Afghan war.

"We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement [with the Taliban], but we do know that, after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace", Trump said.

However, he emphasized that "a lot of work" still remains to be done to reach to a peace deal with the Taliban.

In addition to the United States, he said the region has a big role to play in Afghanistan.

But, to date, the Taliban has negotiated only directly with the United States, largely cutting the Afghan government out of the discussion. In one instance, Islamabad sent a message to the militants through religious leaders that they had to talk to the United States or risk a cut-off in ties.

He said the Taliban did not want to be "a pariah state" and had told him that they did not see a military solution to the conflict.

The Taliban leader, who declined to be identified, said Pakistan had kept "unprecedented pressure" on the militants and their close relatives over the past few months.

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Karzai's words came days after Taliban representatives met in the Russian capital with other Afghan delegates, including the former president himself as well as other former government officials and some members of the Afghan diaspora in Russia. Trump at the time accused Islamabad of rewarding past USA aid with "nothing but lies & deceit".

"We are in the early stage of a protracted process", he said.

Explaining the Taliban position on refusing to talk to the government in Kabul, Mujahid said that any talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani regime would have symbolic ramifications.

Pakistani sources suggest that the driver behind their country's support for the talks is not USA aid but growing concerns over the regional economic shock waves that could follow an abrupt US pullout from Afghanistan.

"We're willing to help them agree on this", Kabulov said.

"We have enough economic issues of our own to deal with already".

Responding to a question about Pakistan's role in facilitating the US-Taliban talks, he said that Islamabad had played a constructive role and released Mullah Baradar "at my request".

Now the newly appointed chief negotiator, Baradar is expected to fly from Pakistan to attend the next round of negotiations in Doha on February 25.

Mr Bhutto-Zardari addressed this issue at a meeting with Washington-based Pakistani journalists as well, urging Islamabad to be ready to deal with both positive and negative consequences of a USA withdrawal.

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