U.S. Special Envoy, Top EU Diplomat Discuss Taliban Deal With Re-Elected Afghan President

U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad and re-elected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani met on February 19 to discuss a U.S. deal with Taliban militants on a seven-day reduction in violence.

Ghani the previous day was declared the winner of a hotly contested presidential poll, the outcome of which was rejected by his main rival, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.

Ghani’s office released a statement saying he and the U.S. diplomat had held “effective” meetings with local leaders on how the Afghan government would handle the peace process to eventually end the nearly two-decade war.

Likewise, Josep Borrell, the European Union’s chief diplomat, congratulated Ghani on retaining the presidency while pushing for an “inclusive peace process” in a phone call the same day.

Borrell “stressed the priority will now be to ensure unity in support of an inclusive peace process,” an EU news release said.

He continued: “The European Union stands ready to support the peace process, which an opportunity not be missed.”

Abdullah on February 17 told a meeting of government ministers that the Taliban had agreed to a seven-day reduction of violence ahead of a peace deal with the United States that was “finalized” a week earlier and may be signed as soon as February 29.

The New York Times reported last week that President Donald Trump had given his “conditional” approved of a peace deal.

Based on reporting by Reuters and The New York Times
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