Afghan President Ashraf Ghani (R) and US Special Envoy for Peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad (L), meet in Kabul, Afghanistan on 10 November 2018. Presidential Palace / Handout on REUTERS
KABUL (Reuters) – The US Special Envoy for Afghanistan hopes to consolidate a peace agreement with the Taliban insurgents by April 201
Zalmay Khalilzad, who was supposed to hold talks in Kabul between the United States, the Taliban and the Afghan government, told reporters he hopes "a peace agreement will be reached by April 20 next year".
Afghanistan is planning a presidential election on April 20, 2019.
The Afghan-born US diplomat said he was "cautiously optimistic" about the peace talks.
Khalilzad, who was selected by US head of government Donald Trump for direct talks with the Taliban, met with leaders of the Islamist hardline group in Qatar last month to find ways to end the 17-year war in Afghanistan To end Afghanistan.
On Sunday, Khalilzad said the conclusion of the talks was "peace and a successful Afghanistan that poses no threat to itself and the international community."
The Taliban were not immediately available for comment.
The insurgents, fighting against the expulsion of foreign forces and the Western-backed Afghan government, appealed to Khalilzad last month for a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops and the release of high-level Taliban prisoners.
Report by Rupam Jain, Abdul Qadir Sediqi, Editor of Himani Sarkar; Editing by Janet Lawrence