US Says Kabul Closer To Holding Peace Talks With Taliban

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In a written statement, the ministry said Russian Federation is strongly in favor of the commencement of direct negotiations between the government of Afghanistan and the Taliban in order to end the fratricidal civil war, and is ready to provide an appropriate platform.

Ambassador Haley, who is also a member of President Trump's cabinet, said her takeaway from her visit is that "the entire peace process is Afghan-led and Afghan-owned".

Wells said: "It is inaccurate to say that the Taliban have occupied 43 per cent of Afghanistan's territory; they have occupied only 12 per cent territory of Afghanistan".

"We really are going to work toward a peace process, with the goal being that we do not want Afghanistan to be a safe haven for terrorism anymore", she said.

"They [the Afghan government] are starting to see the Taliban concede, they are starting to see them move towards coming to the table", said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

A former United States diplomat has called for designating Pakistan as a "state sponsor of terrorism" and said Islamabad's status as a major non-NATO ally for the US should also be taken away. He will take part in the UN Security Council meetings on non-proliferation of mass destruction weapons and the situation in Afghanistan, TASS reported. The United States recently froze payments of military aid to Pakistan, citing its alleged failure to act against militants.

"We have to stand up to those who accuse us of harbouring terrorists", he said.

But he said "the message of the Afghan government was very reassuring from the point of view of continuing efforts to find the peaceful resolution to all the outstanding issues".

Sources privy of the development within the Taliban ranks have told Reuters that supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada had approved Monday's exploratory meeting in Islamabad on restarting talks to end the war that kills thousands of Afghans each year.

Both sides officially denied holding any talks.