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US envoy hails Taliban peace talks, ‘most productive’ so far

U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad speaks at the inauguration of the Ghazi School in Kabul. (US Embassy Kabul Afghanistan/U.S. Department of State)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The U.S. envoy helping to broker peace talks with the Taliban said that the current round of negotiations have been the “most productive” so far.

Zalmay Khalilzad made the comments on July 6 while attending meetings in Qatar.

Taliban negotiators have been meeting with Khalilzad to try to reach a deal that would have the U.S. military withdraw from Afghanistan in return for various guarantees.

“These six days have been the most productive of the rounds we’ve had…we made progress on all the issues that we have been discussing,” Khalilzad was quoted as saying.

Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s office in Qatar, said they were also pleased with the discussions.

“We are happy with progress and hope the rest of the work is also done. We have not faced any obstacles yet,” he said in a post to Twitter.

The talks were set to be paused until July 9, while another summit with Afghan representatives takes place in Qatar’s capital.

About 60 Afghan delegates were scheduled to attend the so-called Intra-Afghan Dialogue Conference, which includes political figures, women, and other stakeholders.

The representatives of the Taliban have so far refused to deal directly with the Western-backed government in Kabul.

U.S. officials have said they are seeking an agreement on a cease-fire and on full talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government before any peace deal is finalized.