US committed to protect Afghan people’s interests in Doha talks: Zalmay Khalilzad

The United States is committed to ensure that personal interests do not take precedence over the national interests during the crucial negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban in Doha, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said.

In an interview with TOLOnews in Doha, Khalilzad said a solution should be found to end the Afghan crisis, which will lead to long-lasting peace.

Asked if the intra-Afghan talks would see a breakdown, the US envoy remarked that such a development will not be acceptable for Washington.

“It is not acceptable and there is a solution to every problem, and a solution must be found. We are ready to help if the country’s interests come first and personal interests do not come first. I am confident that a solution will be found and we will not allow personal interests to take precedence. This is the promise of the US to the people of Afghanistan,” Khalilzad said.

He said there are some people in Afghanistan who prefer the current situation to peace with the Taliban while some are attemng to keep Washington engaged in war so that it could pay the price, according to TOLOnews.

“Some prefer the current situation rather than peace with the Taliban. For instance, within Afghanistan there are some who are trying to keep the US engaged in the war,” Khalilzad said.

Earlier on Friday, Khalilzad said he is hopeful that talks between the Afghan government and Taliban will pave the way for a peace process and withdrawal of foreign troops after decades of war and insurgency.

The intra-Afghan talks between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban which opened in Qatar’s Doha on Saturday is aimed at establishing peace and stability in Afghanistan.

The Afghan government’s 21-member negotiating team was led by Masoom Stanekzai, a former intelligence chief. On the other hand, the Taliban was led by Mawlavi Abdul Hakim, the terror group’s chief justice and a close aide of the group’s chief Haibatullah Akhunzada, Al Jazeera reported.

Calling the beginning of intra-Afghan peace talks a “truly momentous occasion,” US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo urged the Taliban and the Afghan government to “seize the opportunity”, adding that Washington is ready to support the negotiations.

Peace talks were expected to take place in March but were delayed repeatedly due to a prisoner exchange agreement made as part of the deal signed between the US and Taliban in February.

US committed to protect Afghan people’s interests in Doha talks: Zalmay Khalilzad