US welcomes proposed intra-Afghan talks in China – World

The United States welcomed China's proposal to organize a new meeting that brings together Afghan and Taliban officials on Monday after President Donald Trump abruptly ended talks with the insurgents.

Read: Afghan rivals will meet in China after US talks stall

The Taliban last week said China invited a delegation to the talks in Beijing, the second meeting after a dialogue in Qatar in July that was agreed with Germany.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for Afghan peace, met with his colleagues from China, Russia and Pakistan last week in Moscow, where the four countries renewed their support for a "comprehensive and sustainable peace agreement."

Read: Four countries ask to reduce violence in Afghanistan

The four countries "welcomed the Chinese proposal to organize the next intra-Afghan meeting in Beijing," said a joint statement released Monday by the United States.

The talks will include "a wide range of political figures," including "representatives of the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, other Afghan leaders and the Taliban," he said.

However, there was some confusion about when the talks could take place.

The Taliban said last week that the conference would be held from October 29 to 30, but on Monday an insurgent spokesman denied a report that said a Taliban delegation was in Beijing.

The Taliban have refused to formally negotiate with the Kabul government, but the Beijing and Doha meetings are considered to foster dialogue and plant the seeds of an eventual negotiated solution.

Khalilzad negotiated with the Taliban for a year, reaching an agreement under which the United States would withdraw troops and end its longest war.

But Trump ended the talks last month, withdrawing an invitation that he said extended to the Taliban to meet near Washington, citing the murder of an American soldier.

The United States has often tried to mitigate the global influence of China and Russia, but Jalilzad has frequently consulted the two in their quest for Afghan peace.

China shares a 76-kilometer (45-mile) border with Afghanistan and has expressed concern over the spread of extremism, while the Soviet Union in the 1980s led a disastrous intervention in the country against Washington-backed guerrillas. For the second time, the three powers chose to include Pakistan.


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