US and Taliban officials will meet in United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Monday to push a political settlement to the Afghan war, multiple sources and media reports confirmed.
Taliban in a statement on Sunday confirmed their participation in the meeting with US officials in UAE. The statement said that representatives of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and UAE will also attend the meeting.
This comes after the US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad met Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE’s Foreign Minister, on Sunday.
Al Nahyan reiterated UAE’s support for the efforts made by Khalilzad to help restore security, stability and peace in Afghanistan.
Sheikh Abdullah welcomed Khalilzad at the meeting and discussed with him ties of friendship and cooperation, and ways to enhance them, as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest.
He emphasized the humanitarian message of the UAE in helping friendly nations and strengthening stability and peace throughout the world.
Khalilzad also praised UAE’s efforts towards Afghanistan and noble humanitarian missions it undertakes in support of the people of Afghanistan.
Recently, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, while speaking in the northwestern city of Peshawar, explained his country has agreed to assist in Afghan peace efforts because Washington has changed its position by requesting help, instead of saying Islamabad is not doing enough, as US leaders have previously insisted.
On Saturday, a spokesperson for the US embassy in Kabul hailed Khan’s remarks and support for a political reconciliation in the war-ravaged neighboring country.
“The United States welcomes any actions by the Pakistani government to promote greater cooperation, including fostering negotiations between the Taliban, the Afghan government, and other Afghans,” the spokesperson said as quoted by the VOA.
“Special Representative Khalilzad has met, and will continue to meet, with all interested parties, including the Taliban, to support a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Afghanistan,” noted the US embassy official.
In his speech on Friday, Khan said that if peace were achieved in Afghanistan, his country will be the immediate beneficiary in terms of security, economic stability and regional connectivity.
In reaction to Khan’s statement, officials at the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) on Sunday said the meeting would mark Islamabad’s first practical step towards the peace process in Afghanistan if it happens.
MoFA spokesman Sibghat Ahmadi said Pakistan’s cooperation in the peace process in Afghanistan is crucial.
“The United States has also increased its pressure. So far, we have achieved some results, but we hope that these results are achieved in larger scale,” said Ahmadi.
But, one member of the High Peace Council (HPC) said Taliban officials from Quetta shura will not attend the meeting, but Taliban’s representatives from Qatar office will talk to the Americans in the meeting.
“Taliban representative from Qatar will attend these talks,” said HPC deputy chief Assadullah Zaeeri.
“Talks between Taliban and Khalilzad must take place in Qatar. If these talks are held in other country including Pakistan, I don’t think that a positive result from the talks is achieved, because this will further complicate the peace process,” said political affairs analyst Nazar Mohammad Mutmaen.
Afghan and US officials have often called on Pakistan to convince the Taliban to attend the peace table.