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US envoy to Afghanistan to meet with Taliban for peace talks

US envoy to Afghanistan to meet with Taliban for peace talks
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The U.S. envoy for peace in Afghanistan will meet with the Taliban this month during an international trip to promote peace talks to end the Afghan War, officials announced Saturday.

The State Department said that Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad will travel to Afghanistan, Belgium, Germany, Pakistan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates through June 16, noting that he will meet with Taliban officials in Doha. 

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Khalilzad will meet with the Afghan government and other Afghans, including representatives of civil society and women’s rights groups, to promote negotiations between different Afghan groups to buoy a peace settlement. He will work to build international support for a peace plan while in Brussels, Berlin, Islamabad and Abu Dhabi. 

The Trump administration is currently negotiating with the armed group to facilitate a withdrawal of U.S. troops, though the talks have been met with bipartisan skepticism on Capitol Hill. 

Talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government have thus far struggled to get off the ground, with a planned meeting in Doha collapsing last month

“I'm disappointed Qatar's intra-Afghan initiative has been delayed. We're in touch with all parties and encouraged that everyone remains committed to dialogue and the #AfghanPeaceProcess,” Khalilzad tweeted at the time. 

“Dialogue is and always will be key to a political roadmap and lasting peace. There is no alternative. I urge all sides to seize the moment and put things back on track by agreeing to a participant list that speaks for all Afghans. I stand ready to help if our help is needed,” he added.

The talks between the administration and the Taliban have also failed to thus far make significant progress, though they did raise eyebrows earlier this year when the Pentagon reportedly asked Congress for funds to reimburse the armed group for transportation and other expenses related to attending the peace negotiations.