NEW YORK - US and Afghan Taliban officials have started conversations aimed at resuming peace talks that collapsed last month, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad met with the Taliban earlier this month in Pakistan, discussing a potential prisoner swap or cutbacks in violence, the Journal reported.

It was the first meeting with the Taliban in a month, the newspaper noted, adding that Khalilzad also met with international diplomats in New York late last month to go over similar issues.

The prisoner swap could allow Anas Haqqani, a top member of Haqqani network, a group associated with the Taliban, to be set free, sources told the Journal. The Taliban would then release two professors, one American and one Australian, who were captured after teaching at the American University of Afghanistan in 2016.

A State Department spokesperson told The Hill that Khalilzad visited Islamabad for “consultations with authorities in Pakistan” as a follow-up to conversations between President Trump and Prime Minister Imran Khan at the United Nations General Assembly.

“These meetings did not represent a restart of the Afghan peace process,” the spokesperson said.

The Taliban also told the Journal that they are ready to sign an agreement around which previous peace talks were centered. “The agreement along with its annexes were finalised after long discussions, now they are ready to be signed,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said. “Now it is up to the US, whether they want the issue resolved through peaceful means or military means.”

Under the agreement, the US would remove about 5,000 troops from Afghanistan within 135 days of the deal’s signing. Other troops would be withdrawn a year later.

The Taliban would agree to cut ties with Al-Qaeda, according to the Journal.

Trump announced the peace talks between the US and the Taliban were dead after the group claimed responsibility for a bombing in Kabul that killed a US soldier and dozens of other people last month.

He had planned to invite Taliban officials to Camp David in a secret meeting for peace talks.


According to Sputnik, the Taliban on Sunday killed Raz Mohammad Waziri, the governor of the Jaghatu district of Afghanistan’s central province of Wardak.

The governor was killed in his own car in the Golai hospital area in the Koti Sangi district in western Kabul.

The Taliban took responsibility for the attack in a statement later in the day. Meanwhile, sources in the Kabul police declined to speak about the incident.

The situation in Afghanistan has been tense for almost two decades as the government forces are fighting the Taliban, with all the peace initiatives having failed so far. The ongoing instability resulted in the rise of other extremist groups across the country, including the Islamic State (banned in Russia).