US to restart Taliban talks after Trump green light

Kabul, Dec 4 (AFP/APP): The US negotiator on Afghanistan will shortly resume talks with the Taliban, officials said Wednesday, three months after President Donald Trump abruptly halted diplomatic efforts that could end America’s longest war.

Zalmay Khalilzad has arrived in Kabul on the start of his mission, which follows Trump’s trip last week to Afghanistan, where he gave his blessing for a return to negotiations.

The State Department said that Khalilzad, a veteran US negotiator who was born in Afghanistan, would head to Qatar to meet with the Taliban after his meetings in Kabul.

In a nod to concerns raised by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, the State Department voiced support for a ceasefire — a key priority for Kabul before any negotiations with the Islamist insurgents.

“Ambassador Khalilzad will rejoin talks with the Taliban to discuss steps that could lead to intra-Afghan negotiations and a peaceful settlement of the war, specifically a reduction in violence that leads to a ceasefire,” a State Department statement said.

In September, the United States and the Taliban had appeared on the verge of signing a deal that would have seen Washington begin pulling thousands of troops out of Afghanistan in return for security guarantees.

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