By: The Kabul Times
KABUL: After wrapping up a four-day visit to Kabul, US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said on Monday that he met with a broad-spectrum of Afghan society to hear their thoughts on the peace process.
Khalilzad tweeted: “Before I left Kabul, I met with a roundtable of women’s rights leaders & religious scholars to hear their candid thoughts regarding the state of affairs for Afghan women, including their essential place in a republic & inclusive peace process.”
“We share the fundamental view that women’s voices must be heard in the ongoing peace talks and the influential position women (and) ulema have in encouraging a just and durable peace for all Afghans,” Khalilzad tweeted.
Earlier Monday, the US Embassy issued a statement reporting that Khalilzad met with government and political leaders, civil society activists, and the diplomatic community during his visit to Kabul to discuss preparations for the upcoming Istanbul conference.
The US Embassy said in each engagement, Khalilzad underscored the importance for both sides to accelerate the peace process.
The US-proposed Istanbul Conference is expected to start on April 16 and will bring together a wide range of stakeholders. However, late Monday, the Taliban said not ready to take part at the conference.
The group’s spokesman Mohammad Naeem said that if the conference is postponed and another date is set, they will hold discussions on whether to attend and will then “share the details of our decisions.”
This comes as the May 1 deadline for a full troop withdrawal looms. But with less than three weeks to go, the US has still not decided on whether to withdraw all troops or to extend their presence in Afghanistan.
The troop withdrawal deadline was agreed to in February last year between the US and the Taliban, but without the Afghan government’s participation.