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Khalilzad: Kabul it won't be blocked from talks

The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan is trying to reassure the U.S.-backed government in Kabul that it will not be shut out of a peace process with the Taliban, after it complained of being side-lined from talks, officials said on Friday.

The U.S. envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, wants representatives of Afghan society to join talks aimed at ending the 17-year war between the Western-backed government and the Islamist Taliban, who were ousted from power by U.S.-led forces in 2001.

Khalilzad, an Afghan-born U.S. diplomat, met Taliban leaders in Qatar last month to try to push talks forward but the Taliban have long rejected direct talks with the elected government, led by President Ashraf Ghani.

“Ghani and many Afghan politicians felt that the U.S. was shutting them out of the peace talks,” said a close aide to Ghani.

 

“Khalilzad cleared the differences by meeting top Afghan politicians, civil society members and women to prove that U.S. will not isolate Afghans during next round of peace talks,” he said.