US envoy Khalilzad travels to Asia, Middle East to pursue Afghan peace deal

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US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad

Washington DC [US], July 10 (ANI): US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad departed for South and Central Asia as well as the Middle East on July 9, the US State Department said on Saturday.

A state department release said that Ambassador Khalilzad, during his travel, will continue to engage in determined diplomacy and the pursuit of a peace agreement between the Islamic Republic and the Taliban.

This visit comes amid a spike in violence in Afghanistan. The Taliban has intensified its offensive against the Afghan government since the US start of a military drawdown in May. It now claims to have captured close to 85 per cent of the territory.

As part of the United States' ongoing support of the peace process, Khalilzad will work with all parties and with regional and international stakeholders to further advance a consensus on a political settlement, the release said.

"Political accommodation on the part of all sides remains urgent. The sooner the sides can agree to a negotiated settlement, the sooner Afghanistan and the region can reap the benefits of peace, including expanded regional connectivity, trade, and development," the statement said.

In Tashkent, Ambassador Khalilzad will participate in an international conference hosted by the Government of Uzbekistan on regional connectivity, it added.

This comes as the Taliban has taken control of hundreds of districts across the country and US intelligence assessments have suggested the country's civilian government could fall to the terror group within months of US forces withdrawing completely.

Earlier this week, Taliban and Afghan politicians had agreed that war is not a solution to the Afghan problem and there is a need to establish a mechanism for the transition from war to lasting peace.

This was agreed upon on Wednesday during a meeting between Taliban and Afghan politicians in Iran where a joint declaration with six articles was signed, TOLOnews reported. (ANI)

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