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Intra-Afghan talks should begin without delay

KABUL (TOLOnews): Zalmay Khalilzad, Special Representative of the United States to Afghanistan’s Reconciliation, has said that in a recent virtual meeting with President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, he emphasized removing obstacles from the path of the intra-Afghan negotiations to get them started soon.

According to analysts, the release of prisoners from both sides – the Afghan government and the Taliban – is a key issue that leads to the intra-Afghan negotiations.

Khalilzad was joined by CEO of US International Development Finance Corporation Adam Boehler in this meeting.

“On peace, we emphasized the immediate step is to rapidly resolve the remaining issues surrounding the start of intra-Afghan negotiations. Delay provides opportunities for spoilers,” Khalilzad said.

“We discussed the importance of quick-hit programs as well as longer term infrastructure programs that will provide significant employment opportunitie. Power and health care are two critical areas that merit support. They help with economic development and improve peoples’ quality of life,” he said.

Khalilzad said they share a common view that economic benefits of peace far outweigh benefits of war.

“A sustainable peace can mean investment with less risk, lower cost and faster capital deployment,” he said.

“Investment is possible only if Afghan leaders make the decisions conducive for economic development. We also emphasized the importance of regional economic development and prosperity,” Khalilzad added.

The intra-Afghan negotiations were expected in the near future but critics say the prisoners’ release is a main issue that has resulted in multiple delays in the process.

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