Pakistan freed Taliban co-founder at US request: Envoy

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Khalilzad, who returned to the USA from nearly a month-long peace mission to South Asia and the Middle East, said on Friday that he had discussed conditions for the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan with the Taliban, but there had been no agreement on this issue yet, Dawn news reported.

The Afghan government, which was not invited in last week's Moscow talks, slammed Russian Federation for allowing the United Nations blacklisted Taliban members to take part in the talks.

The Taliban had issued a statement to announce Baradar's appointment and a reshuffle in their team to put senior leaders into key positions as the talks with USA officials gain momentum.

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.

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. Even if the troop withdrawal and Taliban assurances on denying haven to extremist groups were fully settled, a peace agreement would not be completed until numerous other issues such as political participation are decided, he said.

He also served as the US Ambassadors to Afghanistan and Iraq during the Bush Administration.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, said Friday that he and Taliban negotiators have struck an agreement, in principle, which could pave the way for at least some American servicemembers to exit Afghanistan, where they've been fighting for 17 years.

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"There is an election, I know, that makes reaching a peace agreement particularly complicated".

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly signaled his intention to wind down America's longest conflict, declaring Tuesday in his State of the Union address that "great nations do not fight endless wars".

Khalilzad is seeking an agreement in which Taliban would negotiate in good faith with the Afghan government and commit to ending any terrorism threat within the country. "The Afghans must sit across the table with each other and come to an agreement about the future of their country", he said.

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

"They understand that they can not go back" to how things were, the United States negotiator said.

Noting that Mullah Baradar, now based in Doha, was already facilitating the US-Taliban talks, the US envoy said that his role had also been recognised by former Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai and his successor President Ashraf Ghani.

In contrast, his assessment of the 18-year US-led military campaign in Afghanistan was far less positive. Taliban officials alleged publicly this week that the United States had agreed to remove half of its troops from Afghanistan by May, a statement Khalilzad called false.