Khalilzad kicks off 5th Afghanistan peace trip to accelerate peace efforts

US special peace envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has started his fifth Afghanistan peace trip to regional countries to accelerate efforts for maintaining peace in Afghanistan. it is determined that his 5th trip to the region will last for 18 days and will also pay visit to Turkey, Belgium and Germany besides Afghanistan and Pakistan and other regional countries including China and India.
The Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad will lead an interagency delegation to Belgium, Germany, Turkey, Qatar, Afghanistan, and Pakistan from February 10 – 28, the US State Department said in a statement late Sunday.
“This trip is part of an overall effort to facilitate a peace process that protects US national security interests and brings all Afghan parties together in an intra-Afghan dialogue through which they can determine a path for their country’s future,” it said. 
“He will meet with our allies and partners to discuss mutual efforts to advance that goal and will consult with the Afghan government throughout the trip,” the statement read.
This is Khalilzad’s fifth peace trip to European and regional countries. Ten days back, he completed his fourth peace trip to India, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Qatar. Khalilzad, who held talks with representatives of the Taliban group four times in the last four months, has expressed cautious optimism about the prospect of a deal, and even announced a draft framework, but stressed nothing had been finalized. After the statement released by US State Department, Khalilzad tweeted that he has shared developments of US efforts for peace in Afghanistan with officials in Washington, adding that consultations have been made in this regard.
“I took the opportunity last week in DC to consult with colleagues across the US government on the progress we’re making in facilitating the Afghan peace process. It was especially good to meet with Gen Dunford. We’re working hand in hand on peace and security,” Khalilzad tweeted. “Good week in DC. I’m headed out again. Back on the road to further coordinate our efforts with partners in Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia”. Starting of direct negotiation between the Taliban group and Afghanistan government is one of key goals of Khalilzad, but the Taliban group has not shown readiness and decided to hold direct talks with Afghanistan government.
Afghanistan government has always said it is supporting any step taken for acceleration of maintaining peace in the country, but adding that all steps should be taken in close coordination with Afghanistan government. No organization and country can decide and execute peace deal with the Taliban group except Afghanistan government. For ending the ongoing war and maintaining peace and stability in the country, direct peace talks between Afghanistan government and the Taliban group are necessary.
It is worth mentioning that President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani has repeatedly insisted on dignified peace for Afghanistan and said that peace has a particular mechanism that should be led and owned by Afghans. In a new move, President Ghani in ceremony on Monday suggested that a loya jirga or grand assembly of tribal elders should be convened into session to plan a course for peace.
Lailuma Noori

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