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Pompeo tells Ghani Intra-Afghan dialogue needed to finalize deal with Taliban: State Dept
Washington, Feb 6 (Sputnik) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a phone conversation told Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that intra-Afghan negotiations were critical to reaching a ceasefire and a lasting peace settlement with the Taliban, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said in a press release.

Last week, State Department envoy Zalmay Khalilzad told the New York Times US and Taliban officials, during talks in Qatar, reached a "framework" agreement that calls for the United States to withdraw troops in exchange for assurances the insurgents will not allow Afghanistan to act as a platform for terrorist attacks against the West.

"The Secretary? emphasized the importance of an intra-Afghan dialogue and the role of a ceasefire in ending the violence and creating the conditions for the Afghan government, other Afghan leaders and the Taliban to sit together and negotiate a political settlement," Palladio said on Tuesday. Pompeo also reaffirmed the US commitment to achieving a lasting peace in Afghanistan and underscored Khalilzad''s role in facilitating an inclusive peace process, the readout said.

Last week, Ghani in a statement questioned the Taliban''s legitimacy in response to the insurgents'' allegations that the government in Kabul is nothing more than a US puppet. Meanwhile, two days of intra-Afghan talks kicked off in Moscow on Tuesday.

During the conference, former Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta said recent talks in Qatar between representatives of the United States and the Taliban movement do not take into account other parties that have a vested interest in the Afghan peace process. The conference, organized with the help of the Afghan diaspora, is not part of the Moscow format of Afghan settlement talks, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

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