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Pakistani envoy praises new round of US, Taliban talks

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Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. on Monday is praising the new round of peace talks between the United States and the Taliban, a day after those sides announced plans to resume negotiations.

“If you had asked me this question 6 months or 8 months ago, frankly, I could never have actually guessed that there will be a day where the U.S. and the Taliban will spend 16 days in a room talking about peace,” Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan said at an event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

The ambassador said Pakistan is making a “serious and sincere effort” to help the peace process in Afghanistan along.{mosads}

His comments come after Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, announced Sunday the seventh round of talks between the Taliban and the U.S. would take place on Saturday, June 29 in Qatar.

“I believe all sides want rapid progress,” he tweeted.

Since October, U.S. and Taliban negotiators have been working toward an agreement to end the 18-year-long Afghanistan conflict. Talks in March produced a draft agreement on the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops in exchange for the Taliban cutting ties with terrorist organizations like al Qaeda.  

The Taliban has continued to refuse to negotiate with the Afghan government in Kabul, referring to President Ashraf Ghani’s administration as a “puppet” of the U.S.. No members of the Taliban attended a conference hosted by Pakistan on Saturday that brought together Afghan political leaders.  

Khan urged both Afghan sides to sit down.

“We also believe that without there being a comprehensive intra-Afghan dialogue we will not have sustainable peace in Afghanistan,” Khan said.

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