Washington: US Special Representative on Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad is slated to visit India among other countries in the region as part of the process for an intra-Afghan political settlement, the State Department has said.
“Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad will lead an interagency delegation to India, China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan from January 8-21,” the Department said.
“He will meet senior government officials in each country to facilitate an intra-Afghan political settlement.
“The US supports the desire of the Afghan people and the international community for a political settlement that ends the 40-year conflict and ensures Afghanistan never again serves as a platform for international terrorism.”
The move comes a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump had a telephonic conversation during which the two leaders agreed to further strengthen bilateral relations in the year ahead.
The conversation between the two leaders took place after Trump on January 2 said that India was not doing enough for peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Khalilzad’s visit for an intra-Afghan political settlement reflects New Delhi’s stand that it is is for an “Afghan-owned, Afghan-led and Afghan-controlled” peace and reconciliation process.
Tuesday’s statement came even as the Afghan Taliban called off talks with US officials scheduled in Qatar this week reportedly over an “agenda disagreement”.
The Taliban have repeatedly rejected to hold talks on peace with the Afghan government in the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan.
The statement said that Khalilzad will continue to coordinate his efforts with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and other Afghan stakeholders to ensure an intra-Afghan peace process.
“The US goal is to promote dialogue among Afghans about how to end the conflict, and to encourage the parties to come together at the negotiating table to reach a political settlement where every Afghan citizen enjoys equal rights and responsibilities under the rule of law,” the statement said.
“During his last trip in December, Special Representative Khalilzad reiterated that the only solution to the conflict is for all parties to sit together and reach an agreement on the political future of Afghanistan with mutual respect and acceptance.”