Interview: U.S. Envoy Backs Afghan Presidential Election If No Peace Deal

The U.S. peace envoy seeking to negotiate an end to the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan said peace negotiations between Kabul and the Taliban will determine whether the presidential election slated for September 28 is held. In an interview with RFE/RL in the Afghan capital on July 31, Zalmay Khalilzad said the vote "depends on the outcome of the negotiations among the Afghans." "We support any outcome that is reached," said Khalilzad, a veteran diplomat and a former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. "But until that outcome is reached, we support [holding] the election." U.S. officials have privately floated the possibility that the vote could be canceled in the event of a peace settlement and the formation of an interim government that the Taliban would join. There is support among the Taliban and Afghan opposition figures, but President Ashraf Ghani has strongly rejected it. U.S. officials have said they hope to reach a peace agreement by September 1..............................

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