U.S. Envoy for Afghan Peace Embarks on Multi-Nation Tour Amid Concerns in Kabul by J.P. Lawrence - Stars & Stripes
Zalmay Khalilzad, the diplomat heading America’s peace efforts in Afghanistan, left Monday for an eight-country tour to discuss ways of bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table.
Khalilzad will travel to countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia and the United Arab Emirates. He has already spoken multiple times with senior Taliban officials, according to statements by the militant group.
Khalilzad has been “patient, but in a hurry,” said Robin Rafael, a former U.S. diplomat who served in Central Asia. In interviews, Khalilzad has said he hopes the Taliban and the Kabul government can reach a peace agreement before presidential elections next April.
A deal in the next four months would be much quicker than the five-year peace process envisioned by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, who outlined his plan last week at a conference in Europe. Ghani said peace efforts must begin with talks between the Taliban and his Kabul government, before expanding to include other nations…