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U.S. special envoy hails 'Afghan-owned' peace talks due to start in Doha

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad said on Friday he hoped talks between the Afghan government and Taliban due to begin on Saturday would lead to an end to the country’s long-running war, but said many challenges remain.Khalilzad told reporters in a telephone briefing that the United States would engage the participants and be willing to assist if needed, but the two sides would decide how to proceed.

“This is a new phase in diplomacy for peace in Afghanistan. Now we are entering a process that is Afghan-owned and Afghan-led,” he said, adding they the talks would hopefully bring about a roadmap to end the war. “These negotiations are an important achievement, but there are... significant challenges on the way to reaching an agreement,” he added.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Dan Grebler

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