US envoy Khalilzad hopes for Afghan peace deal with Taliban before July elections

11:30 AM | 9 Feb, 2019
US envoy Khalilzad hopes for Afghan peace deal with Taliban before July elections
WASHINGTON - US peace envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad has expressed the hope that a final deal with Taliban will be clinched before Afghanistan's presidential election in July, Radio Pakistan reported.

Speaking at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation said that although his talks with the Taliban have produced a tentative framework agreement, but negotiations are far from finished.

"It will be better for Afghanistan if we could get a peace agreement before the election, which is scheduled in July," Zalmay Khalilzad said, adding that there remained "a lot of work" to do.

He called for direct talks to begin between the Taliban and the Afghan government as soon as possible.

Khalilzad said the US is not seeking permanent military bases in Afghanistan and any US troop withdrawal would be dependent on conditions on the ground, and not on any particular timetable.

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Afghanistan has suffered nearly constant conflict since the Soviet invasion of 1979, which was followed by civil war, the Taliban regime, and the US invasion in late 2001.