Washington's newly named point man for Afghan peacemaking met Taliban representatives in the Gulf nation of Qatar on Friday, a person familiar with the gathering said, as the Trump administration stepped up efforts to cobble together a road map for talks aimed at ending the 17-year war in Afghanistan. "Both sides agreed to continue meeting in the future", Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban's spokesman, said in a statement.
"Both sides discussed prospects for peace, and the U.S presence in Afghanistan", said another Taliban official, requesting anonymity.
President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday met with Khalilzad who briefed him on his visit to regional countries this past week, and said the U.S. is ready to help Afghanistan with the peace process, the Presidential Palace said in a statement.
Taliban leaders will continue to have discussions with the newly appointed USA special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, the group said on Saturday, a move that could accelerate diplomatic engagement between the warring sides. A Taliban official who was part of the four-person delegation to that meeting said it produced "very positive signals".
Recalling the sacrifices of the Afghan people over many years of war, Khalilzad said: "We, in cooperation with the Afghan people and government, want to make a peaceful Afghanistan where all Afghans see themselves included".
A US-led coalition forced the Taliban from power in 2001 in the aftermath of the 9/11 al-Qaeda attacks on Washington and NY.
At least 8,050 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of 2018, nearly half of them targeted by suicide bomb attacks and other improvised devices that may amount to war crimes, the United Nations said last week.