Taliban confirms meeting with USA peace envoy in Qatar

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Both sides "agreed to continue such meetings", he added, without providing further details.

President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday met with the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad who briefed the president on his visit to regional countries this past week, and said the US is ready to help Afghanistan with the peace process, the Presidential Palace said in a statement. The officials, who spoke to the Associated Press on Saturday on condition they not be identified because of the sensitivity of the process, said the meetings were held Friday in the Middle Eastern state of Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office.

"Afghanistan is an Islamic nation, having its own Islamic values and culture".

Neither side would go on the record to confirm that meeting, but there has been speculation since then that more talks were planned.

The US's top diplomat for Afghanistan has met with a Taliban delegation in Qatar in a bid to break the deadlock over the peace process.

The U.S. last month appointed Afghan-born Khalilzad as its special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation.

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"I think any time we're there on the ground we're making headway", State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters on Thursday when asked whether Khalilzad was making any progress in the Afghan peace talks.

"Although they have not agreed on anything. they could bypass the Afghan government". It added that the US envoy reiterated Washington's support for "Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process".

President Ashraf Ghani on Saturday met with Khalilzad who briefed him on his visit to regional countries this past week, and said the U.S. is ready to help Afghanistan with the peace process, the Presidential Palace said in a statement.

A spokesman for the United States embassy in Kabul declined to comment.

The Taliban had reportedly met with United States officials in July after an unprecedented ceasefire in June which fuelled hopes that negotiations could bring an end to fighting after 17 years. Taliban spokesman Mujahid at the time had described the talks as "productive and positive". Taliban officials want the withdrawal of American forces and a government in Kabul that reflects the group's view. The insurgent group has been calling for direct talks with the US, blaming Washington for starting the Afghan war.

Taliban and United States negotiators discussed a "peaceful end to the invasion in Afghanistan", Mujahid said, referring to the US-led intervention in 2001 that toppled the Taliban regime.

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