The High Peace Council (HPC) on Tuesday said in reaction to US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad’s calls for government and Taliban to form inclusive and authorized negotiating teams that the Afghan government will cooperate and establish its delegation in the near future.
Khalilzad on Monday asked the Taliban to form an authorized team of negotiators for peace talks. He also called on the Afghan government to form its own team of inclusive and authorized representatives for the peace process.
Khalilzad made the call during a meeting in Kabul, which was attended by a select group of Afghan journalists.
In reaction to Khalilzad’s call, HPC spokesman Sayed Ehsan Taheri said the council is working on forming the team and that it would announce the names of delegates soon.
“In the near future an inclusive and authorized negotiating team of the Afghan government will be announced. We are waiting for the Taliban leadership to form their negotiating team for talks with the Afghan government,” said Taheri.
Khalilzad was in Kabul on a two-day visit before leaving for Islamabad on Tuesday.
While in Kabul he met with a wide range of stakeholders that included government leaders, officials, members of political parties, journalists, civil society activists and others.
On Tuesday he left for Pakistan, which is one of a number of regional countries, that he will visit over a 10 day period. Khalilzad is still to visit Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
The National Unity Government’s Chief Executive Officer’s office meanwhile said they hope Khalilzad can convince Pakistan to stand by the Afghan government and the international community in bringing peace to Afghanistan.
“Khalilzad, based on his contact and understanding of the region and Pakistan, should state the reality and try to convince Pakistan to stand by the side of the Afghan government and international community,” the CEO’s deputy spokesman Omid Maisam said.
A number of former Taliban officials meanwhile said they are happy that Khalilzad has stepped in as mediator adding that they hope the US will follow the process ethically with the aim of bringing stability to the country.
“If the Americans have appointed Khalilzad to bring peace in Afghanistan and Khalilzad also represents Americans properly, I think it will bring results. But he should not enter the process as an Afghan,” Sayed Mohammad Akbar Agha, the former leader of the Taliban's Jaish-al-Muslimeen said.
According to a statement issued by the US Embassy in Kabul on Tuesday, Khalilzad met with stakeholders in and outside of government.
He met with President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah, as well as representatives of a variety of political groups, key civil society organizations including the High Peace Council, and Afghan media.
“He received a Security Campaign Update briefing and discussed security issues with National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib, the Ministers of Defense and Interior, and the head of the National Security Directorate,” the statement read.
In his meetings, Khalilzad asked for cooperation from all sides to bring an end to the conflict and called on the parties to facilitate dialogue by forming inclusive negotiating teams.
Recalling the sacrifices of the Afghan people over many years of war, Khalilzad said: “We, in cooperation with the Afghan people and government, want to make a peaceful Afghanistan where all Afghans see themselves included.
“All citizens of Afghanistan must be a part of the reconciliation process.”
On Tuesday, Khalilzad arrived in Islamabad for meetings with Pakistani officials.
According to the embassy’s statements, Khalilzad plans to return to Kabul for further consultations with Afghan leaders in the near future.
The Taliban has not yet responded to Khalilzad’s call regarding the formation of an authorized peace talks team.