Turkish official meets US’ top Afghan peace negotiator

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Turkish presidential spokesman İbrahim Kalın on Dec. 3 welcomed U.S. special representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, the presidency said in a statement.

In a meeting at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara, the two discussed the ongoing intra-Afghan peace talks in Doha, Qatar, which are aimed at ending 19 years of war, as well as regional issues.

The meeting comes a day after Kabul and Taliban representatives reached a preliminary deal to move ahead with the dialogue.

Kalın said Turkey will continue to support and contribute to intra-Afghan negotiations for an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political solution in the war-torn country.

Stability in Afghanistan will contribute to regional peace and prosperity, and Turkey will continue to cooperate with all stakeholders, including the US, he added.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Sedat Önal met Khalilzad that “They welcomed recent progress in Afghanistan peace negotiations and emphasized importance of sustaining regional&international support for peace process,” said the ministry on Twitter.

Zalmay Khalizad said after visiting Turkey he would depart for Qatar “to see how best we can help the sides build on the success of their recent agreement on rules and procedures and make quick progress on a political roadmap and permanent and comprehensive ceasefire.”

Several rounds of intra-Afghan talks involving the government and the hardline Taliban group have been hosted by Doha as part of U.S. efforts to end hostilities and withdraw American forces from Washington’s longest conflict.

Kabul and Taliban representatives reached a preliminary deal Wednesday to resume dialogue.

Khalilzad visited Ankara earlier Thursday where he met Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalın to discuss ending the conflict. Kalın said Turkey will continue to support and contribute to an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political solution in the war-torn country.

The US diplomat tweeted he would also “be traveling in the region to garner more international support for the #AfghanPeaceProcess,” but he did not elaborate where he is planning to visit.

U.S. President Donald Trump has ordered the military to draw down its presence to 2,500 service members by Jan. 15, just five days before he is set to leave the office. He has long pushed for a full withdrawal of US forces.

Hurriyet Daily News

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