US tells Taliban it must talk to Afghan government
Kabul, Jan 16 (AFP) The US envoy in Afghanistan said Wednesday that a peaceful end to the 17-year conflict requires the Taliban to engage in direct talks with the Afghan government, which they have consistently refused.
Zalmay Khalilzad spoke to reporters in Kabul on his latest visit to the war-torn country, where he is at the centre of a flurry of diplomatic efforts to bring an end to the conflict which began with the US invasion of 2001.
“The road to peace will require Taliban to sit with other Afghans, including the government,” Khalilzad said.
There is a consensus among all regional partners on this point,” he added, according to quotes sent to AFP by the US embassy in Kabul.
The insurgents have long refused to hold direct talks with the Kabul government, which they dismiss as a puppet of Washington.
Taliban representatives have met several times with US officials in recent months, but earlier this week threatened to suspend the fledgling peace efforts, accusing the US of changing the agenda of the talks and “unilaterally” adding new subjects.
“If the Talibs want to talk, we can talk, if they want to fight we can fight. We hope that the Talibs want to make peace,” Khalilzad said in response to the threat.