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


Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan

The U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, and 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 is an opportunity not to 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” approval of a peace deal.

Based on reporting by Reuters and The New York Times
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