Published: Thu, January 10, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Khamenei Aide Says US Approached Him in Kabul Seeking Talks with Iran

Khamenei Aide Says US Approached Him in Kabul Seeking Talks with Iran

"They are coordinating with us and they are taking our permission", he said, referring to meetings between the Taliban and representatives from the USA, Russia and Iran.

As of 31 July 2018, the Kabul government controls only 56% of the country while control of 32% is contested, according to the latest quarterly report of the office of the Afghanistan special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, created by the US Congress.

"This time we want to hold talks with the American officials", said a Taliban leader based in Afghanistan, adding that they would discuss a U.S. withdrawal, prisoner exchange and the lifting of a ban on movement of their leaders.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad, has recently held three rounds of peace talks with the Taliban. The Taliban had rejected the participation of Afghan government officials in the deliberations. "He will meet with senior government officials in each country to facilitate an intra-Afghan political settlement", it said.

The US special envoy is actively trying to broker a political solution to the Afghan conflict and has held multiple meetings with the leadership of Afghanistan as well as that of other countries in the region, including Pakistan.

"We would never announce any ceasefire until and unless we achieve major gains on the ground". "Yes, he conveyed Afghanistan President's special message to Prime Minister of Pakistan during his meeting Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi", a senior official of Afghanistan's Embassy in Islamabad told Al Arabiya English.

While denying it made a specific overture to Shamkani, the spokeswoman repeated that Trump is open to a dialog with Iran on "urgent national security issues" and wants Tehran to "make fundamental changes in their destructive behavior".

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As peace talks gained momentum a draft agreement drawn up by the influential US think tank RAND Corporation outlining the clauses for a potential peace deal was circulated among Afghan officials and diplomats in Kabul.

The document, reviewed by Reuters, suggests that the U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation withdraw their military missions in phases over an expected period of 18 months. It has maintained that any peace process and negotiation on Afghanistan has to be an Afghan-led process. It adds that the United States may continue providing civilian assistance.

The Afghan government says only Afghans are authorised to discuss a peace deal with the Taliban and decide on the future political system.

The people pointed out that Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were the only ones that had recognised the erstwhile Taliban regime in Kabul, while Khalilzad served as the contact person for U.S. oil company Unocal, which helped the Taliban lobby with the USA state department in 1997 to recognise the regime in Kabul. He has urged India to go beyond its existing role in supporting infrastructure development in the war-torn country, preferably by sending troops to improve the security situation in Afghanistan.

Daudzai's comments coincide with Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah saying the Taliban's refusal to involve the government in peace talks means the end to a conflict that has lasted 17 years can only remain a dream. It has cost Washington almost a trillion dollars and killed tens of thousands of people.

The United States, which sent troops to Afghanistan in the wake of September 11, 2001, attacks on NY and Washington and at the peak of the deployment had more than 100,000 troops in the country, withdrew most of its forces in 2014. It keeps around 14,000 troops there as part of a NATO-led mission aiding Afghan security forces and hunting militants.

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