US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said in a meeting with High Peace Council (HPC) officials on Monday that at recent meetings, the Taliban were mostly interested in talking about being part of a future government and the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.
The best option would be to seal a peace agreement with the Taliban before holding the presidential elections, said HPC deputy chief Attaullah Saleem.
But in a statement the Taliban rejected recent claims about a future government and the establishment of an interim government.
This comes after Khalilzad met with Taliban officials for the fourth time in recent weeks in which the two sides apparently remained focused on the nature of the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.
“Its natural, they (the Taliban) will be interested to be part of the system, but when and how and through which method, these are all the items which can be discussed once talks have started with them,” said Saleem.
The HPC meanwhile believes that with the political and economic pressure by the US on Pakistan, Islamabad would not create serious obstructions around the peace process in Afghanistan.
“It will be good if we enter into talks with the Taliban before the next presidential elections,” added Saleem.
“President of Afghanistan today held a meeting with Dr. Khalilzad in which Dr. Khalilzad briefed the president about his recent trips and provided detailed information about his meeting with the Taliban and other officials,” Saleem said.
This comes a day after Khalilzad said the Taliban believes it cannot win the war militarily.
On Sunday Khalilzad said he hoped a peace deal is reached before April 20 presidential elections and called on the Taliban to use it as an opportunity.
He said he believes there is the potential for peace in Afghanistan and that the end state of peace talks would be ‘peace, a successful Afghanistan, one that doesn’t pose any threats to itself and to the international community’.
Over the past two days, Khalilzad has met with a broad spectrum of stakeholders in the country, including the president and political party leaders.
“We had a productive meeting with Dr. Khalilzad. We really heard new things from him, this provides new hope that the negotiations have started in their real shape,” said Mohammad Ismail Khan, a member of Jamiat-e-Islami party.
“At the meeting, Dr. Khalilzad briefed the president about his trips and provided detailed information about his meetings with the Taliban and other officials,” said President Ashraf Ghani’s spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri.
“The discussions about the formation of an interim government and reducing the number of offensives by the security institutions are among the items that do not help us bring peace,” said MP Abdul Qayoum Sajjadi.
“With regard to the interim government, all mechanisms have not been explained in the right way so far,” said MP Abdul Latif Pedram.
“Rumors which are circulating these days about the establishment of an interim administration or the postponement of presidential elections are baseless,” added Chakhansuri.
Although the Taliban have rejected rumors about their participation in the future government and the establishment of the interim government, the group confirmed that they met a high level US delegation on the 14, 15 and 16 of November.