Khalilzad Reacts To Taliban Leader’s Eid Statement

The US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, on Sunday reacted to the Taliban leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada’s statement on Eid al-Fitr, and said it provides “some welcome support for the Afghan process”. 

Khalilzad also said that the statement provides “a desire to participate in dialogue with other Afghans and in a final political settlement that will require power sharing. “All good things,” he said.

In an Eid message on Saturday, the Taliban leader stressed on his previous stance about an end to the presence of the US military in Afghanistan and said the group is open for talks but they expect “honesty” from the United States.

He said the Taliban has continued to create a consensus among neighboring and regional countries in its favor and their participation in Moscow conference, where representatives of 12 countries attended, is an example of this “success”.

Akhundzada called for unity and harmony among Afghans to “end the occupation and strengthen an Islamic system”.

He said “the Islamic emirate is not seeking to monopolize power but it wants all Afghans to have their real role in ‘government’”.

Taliban leader called on the United States to “honestly” engage in the ongoing peace talks and accept “the Islamic emirate’s reasonable plan” to move the process forward.

The two sides have held six rounds of talks – three of them in Doha. In the last round of talks in April, the two sides made slow but steady progress on key issues under debate.

According to US officials, the key issues discussed between the US and the Taliban in Doha were foreign forces withdrawal from Afghanistan, counterterrorism assurances, ceasefire, and direct talks with the Afghan government.

In a similar Eid message last year in June, Taliban leader said the group has “kept the doors of understanding and negotiations open” and “appointed the Political Office of the Islamic emirate as the exclusive avenue of activity in this regard”.

Khalilzad continued to say in a tweet that the Taliban leader’s statement suggests the US seeks violence. “We do not. The level of violence in Afghanistan is unacceptable and we have no desire to perpetuate it,” he said.

Khalilzad said that at the same time, the statement’s bombastic tone is unnecessary and only serves to complicate and disrupt as we advance peace talks.

“Let us find ways to work together to reduce or to immediately end the violence, as we continue negotiations to end the war. The killing of the Afghans must stop,” Khalilzad concluded.

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