United States seeking peace agreement in Afghanistan, says Trump's special envoy

US Afghan envoy Zalmay Khalilzad wants peace deal before July vote

US heightens attacks on Taliban to gain leverage in peace talks: NYT

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

In an honest account of his view about the prospects for peace, delivered to an audience at the US Institute of Peace in Washington, he cautioned he did not trust America's long-time adversary.

"I would be wary of taking that and extrapolating off that and saying they're now on board with the peace process", said Jason Campbell, who was the Pentagon's Afghanistan country director until previous year and is now at the RAND Corporation think tank. "We have a long way to go".

Some at the Moscow meeting demanded the formation of an interim government to replace Ghani instead of holding presidential elections in July. He said he hopes that could come soon.

Islamabad, running short of foreign exchange reserves and in talks with the International Monetary Fund over what would be its 13th bailout since the 1980s, says it can not afford to see Afghanistan slide into chaos just as Pakistan is trying to attract foreign investors to shore up its own economy.

He also repeated his earlier warning that it would take more than one meeting to end a 40-year-old war in Afghanistan. Because peace agreement can allow withdrawal.

Elections in Afghanistan had originally been slated for April 20 but were postponed for three months as peace talks progressed.

Khalilzad said USA withdrawal from Afghanistan could only be sought after a peace agreement is reached.

Pakistan was now supportive of an intra-Afghan dialogue, including talks between the Taliban and the government, he acknowledged.

Additionally, the Taleban have promised not to shelter foreign extremists, but experts say they can not be trusted and even now are helping to hide such militants.

"Our vision long term is for an Afghanistan that's entirely sovereign, independent".

"We do not know whether we will achieve an agreement [with the Taliban], but we do know that, after two decades of war, the hour has come to at least try for peace", Trump said.

"That is a red line, and I think that's a policy of the (US) president as well".

In recent weeks, the envoy held several rounds of with talks with representatives of the Taliban in Doha.

The Taleban told him they realise Afghanistan is different from when they were ousted in 2001 - when the hardline militants subjugated women, barred girls from school and wiped out any number of freedoms.

Pakistan, he said, favours inter-Afghan dialogue including between the Taliban and the government. He reiterated that nothing is agreed to until the United States agrees to everything.

US troops invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 and toppled the Taliban government within weeks.

Hours after the closure of Moscow talks, Afghanistan's government lodged a complaint with the United Nations over the Taliban blacklisted members travel to Russian Federation. He added that more talks are planned to "flesh out" the Taliban's commitments.

The Pakistani assistance, which has not been reported in such detail before, also includes exerting pressure on Taliban leaders who fail to cooperate, including by detaining members of the militants' families, the insurgents say.

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