KABUL — Washington’s special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was in the Afghan capital Kabul on Wednesday to launch an “accelerated effort” to get Afghans on both sides of the protracted conflict to the negotiation table to plot a road map to a post-war Afghanistan.
His next stop will be Doha in the Middle East, where he will restart talks with the Taliban, according to a State Department statement. The talks would be the first official round since September, when President Trump declared an all-but-done deal dead after a surge in violence killed 12 people in the capital, including a US soldier.
In Kabul on Wednesday, Khalilzad met with several Afghan leaders, including President Ashraf Ghani, who repeated his call for a cease-fire.
Hekmat Karzai, chairman of the Kabul-based Center for Conflict and Peace Studies, tweeted photos of his meeting Wednesday with Khalilzad in Kabul, saying they “spoke about the way forward.”
A Taliban official said the group has held informal talks with the Americans, without specifying where or who participated. He spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the talks.
Khalilzad’s visit comes just days after Trump visited US troops in Afghanistan for the Thanksgiving holiday, when he hinted at a resumption of peace talks with the Taliban.
Trump said the United States and the Taliban have been engaged in talks and insisted the Taliban want to make a deal after heavy US fire in recent months.
The Taliban official said the United States has been pressing for a cease-fire, even a temporary one during the time of an agreement signing. While there has been no formal announcement of a reduction in violence, Taliban attacks in the cities appear to have decreased.
The Taliban quickly denied responsibility for Wednesday’s shooting that killed Japanese Dr. Tetsu Nakamura, as well as five Afghans, including the doctor’s bodyguards, the driver, and a passenger.