Taliban seek ties with US, other ex-foes

New US special envoy for Afghanistan to meet Taliban in Pakistan: official

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Islamabad: A Pakistani official and the US State Department stated that Thomas West, the new US special envoy for Afghanistan, will visit Pakistan this week to meet with the Taliban foreign ministers and senior diplomats from China and Russia.

This will be the first time the West has visited the region since he succeeded Zalmay Khalilzad, a long-serving diplomat who led the negotiations leading to the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan.

A senior Pakistani government official who asked not to be named told AFP that the “troika” meeting scheduled to be held in Islamabad on Thursday will include Amir Khan Mutaki, the new foreign minister of the Afghan Taliban.

The US State Department said earlier this week that West also plans to visit Russia and India.

“He will work with our partners to continue to clarify our expectations for the Taliban and any future Afghan government,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said at a briefing this week.

The senior Pakistani official stated that the “main purpose of this meeting is… to find ways to avoid humanitarian crises and to study the possibility of establishing an inclusive government in Afghanistan.”

The United Nations has repeatedly warned that Afghanistan is on the verge of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with more than half of the country facing “serious” food shortages, and the winter has forced millions of people to choose between migration and hunger.

West, who briefed NATO on NATO’s contact with the Taliban in Brussels this week, told reporters that Da’esh had “very clearly” expressed their desire to restore assistance, normalize international relations, and lift sanctions.

He called on allies to unite on these issues and pointed out that Washington “cannot accomplish these things on our own.”

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