US envoy forges ahead with troubled Taliban peace deal

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Islamabad

Washington’s envoy to Afghanistan stressed Saturday the economic benefits of the peace deal with the Taliban, forging ahead with an agreement that has run into new political obstacles both in the US and regionally.
Zalmay Khalilzad was wrapping up a week-long trip that included stops in Uzbekistan, Pakistan and the Gulf state of Qatar, where the Taliban negotiators are headquartered. The US signed a peace deal with the Taliban in February to end 19-year war in Afghanistan. Khalilzad has sought to stress the economic benefits of the peace deal throughout his tour. In a series of tweets early Saturday, the US envoy said he had met with the Qatar Investment Authority and the Taliban’s chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani, in Doha. “We agreed development plans in support of peace can never start too early,” Khalilzad tweeted.
However, Washington has recently become embroiled in a controversy over intelligence reports that Russia was paying money to insurgents with links to the Taliban to kill American and NATO soldiers. The identity of the insurgents who took the bounty money is still vague but the payments have been traced to an Afghan drug lord Rahmatullah Azizi, who is living in Moscow, according to Afghan officials who spoke with The Associated Press.—AP