Security Forces Killed In Afghanistan In Two Separate Taliban Attacks

According to news reports US special representative Zalmay Khalilzad met Taliban in Doha

He traveled to Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar before returning to Kabul. "Both sides agreed to continue meeting in the future", Zabiullah Mujahid, the Taliban's spokesman, said in a statement.

It was the first official confirmation of talks between the two sides.

The Taliban called the polls a USA -manipulated event to further their hold on the country.

The U.S. State Department has said only that Khalilzad has had "a number of meetings with a wide range of stakeholders as part of his trip to explore how best to reach a negotiated settlement" to the war in Afghanistan.

Zalmay Khalilzad, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation, speaks during a panel discussion at an event in Washington, US, February 12, 2011.

Zalmay Khalilzad, former US ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations, leads a panel discussion on Afghanistan at the Conservative Political Action conference (CPAC) in Washington, February 12, 2011.

The U.S. has long maintained that it is ready to facilitate and sit at the table as an observer but any peace talks with the Taliban will have to be an Afghan led and Afghan owned process for achieving a sustainable solution.

Last week, Taliban insurgents issued a statement condemning the elections and warning candidates and Afghan Security Forces that they would be targets if they participate.

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The Trump administration held their second direct talks with the Afghan Taliban in Qatar this week as the US State Department underlined the desire to push forward the Afghan peace process.

Taliban had also ordered Afghans to boycott parliamentary elections set for this week.

Khalilzad was in the Afghan capital Saturday meeting with President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, AP reported citing the embassy as its source.

Continued fighting has raised questions about the viability of the US strategy to end the war, which for the past year has focused on forcing the militants to the negotiating table, largely via more air strikes.

Taliban officials want the withdrawal of American forces and a government in Kabul that reflects the group's view.

Violence has escalated in the months leading up to the October 20 parliamentary election, with hundreds killed or wounded.

At least 8,050 Afghan civilians were killed or wounded in the first nine months of 2018, nearly half of them targeted by suicide bomb attacks and other improvised devices that may amount to war crimes, the United Nations said last week.

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