KABUL/ISLAMABAD/WASHINGTON: The U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan proposed a shakeup of the stalled peace process this week, including an interim government and a conference of key players, according to diplomatic and political sources, but his plan faced immediate objections by the warring sides.
Afghan-born U.S. diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad is on a visit to Kabul, Doha and other regional capitals, his first since U.S. President Joe Biden s administration began reviewing its options for the peace process and as time runs out before a May 1 U.S. troop withdrawal deadline.
With peace negotiations in the Qatari capital making little progress and violence in Afghanistan escalating, Khalilzad is trying to build consensus around alternative options with all Afghan sides and key regional players, sources said.
“(The United States) thinks Doha isn t working and needs impetus and an alternate approach,” said one diplomatic source who closely follows the process.
In Kabul, Khalilzad met with Chief Peace Envoy Abdullah Abdullah, President Ashraf Ghani and other political and civil society leaders, including former President Hamid Karzai.
Three diplomatic sources, two sources from the political leadership group meeting with Khalilzad, and two international sources in Kabul said that one of the envoy’s main recommendations was an interim government arrangement, known as participating government Or representative government.
A former Afghan government official familiar with the matter said that Khalilzad shared a document detailing power-sharing recommendations and revised the document he distributed in December.
Another proposal is a meeting in a similar format to that of the Bonn Conference in 2001, with representatives from various parties in Afghanistan meeting in person, while international agencies and diplomats urged them to seek solutions.
After the 2001 US-led invasion expelled the insurgents and agreed on a road map for an interim government and a permanent government and a new constitution, anti-Taliban leaders met in Bonn, Germany, under international auspices.
“We re considering a number of different ideas that might accelerate the process,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters on Friday.
“The United States is not making any formal proposals and is continuing to review all relevant options for future force posture – and all means all,” a State Department spokesperson said on Saturday. “Ambassador Khalilzad has discussed a range of ways to move the diplomacy forward, nothing more.”
The two international sources said Khalilzad is asking the United Nations to take a lead role and call the conference.
Spokespeople for the U.N. mission in Afghanistan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Two of the sources said the conference could be held in Turkey, but a third cautioned that location might meet resistance from Western nations and other countries including Germany and Uzbekistan were being considered.