Imran Khan, Top US Officials To Hold Talks With Taliban In Pakistan

Imran Khan, Top US Officials To Hold Talks With Taliban In Pakistan

Imran Khan, Top US Officials To Hold Talks With Taliban In Pakistan

Special US Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad recently said after six days of talks with the Taliban representatives in Doha last month that the US has made "significant progress" in its peace talks with the Taliban.

Pakistani premier, Imran Khan has been repeatedly making calls for a political settlement to the conflict - a narrative that earned him the title of Taliban Khan.

Taliban negotiators say they will meet USA representatives in Pakistan on February 18 as part of ongoing Afghan peace talks, although a State Department official said the US team had not yet received an invitation to the talks.

Though there was no official confirmation, diplomatic sources in Pakistan said that the Taliban delegation would visit Pakistan and hold talks with both American and Pakistani officials.

There was no immediate explanation for the previously unscheduled talks but Pakistan has been under considerable pressure to use its influence over the Taliban to press the insurgents into direct talks with Afghanistan's government.

But a Taliban statement issued on Wednesday said separate meetings would be held first on February 18 in Islamabad "by the formal invitation of the government of Pakistan".

Afghan Taliban said on Wednesday that their negotiation team will meet the American special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on February 18.

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He is visiting Belgium, Germany, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan and Pakistan from February 10-28 as part of the Trump administration efforts to put an end to the war.

The United States has been attempting to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table with officials in Kabul.

It is also pushing hard for the Taliban to talk to the Afghan government, which the group has so far shut out of talks, branding it as a puppet of Washington.

US negotiators are expected to press for a cease-fire between Taliban insurgents and Western-backed Afghan forces before any agreement on the withdrawal of USA -led foreign troops.

Taliban officials say they want all foreign troops out before a ceasefire, but would still welcome non-military foreign help to re-build the country.

US troops have been in Afghanistan since an October 2001 invasion that brought down the Taliban government after it refused to hand over Al-Qaida members, including Osama bin Laden, blamed for launching the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

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