President Donald Trump's envoy to Afghanistan is reaching out to many top Taliban figures as he tries to launch peace negotiations to end the war before Trump can simply pull the plugand order U.S. troops home, say foreign diplomats.
U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has moved at a rapid pace and ventured beyond the official Taliban office in Qatar to meet other members of the insurgency, two foreign diplomats and three former U.S. officials told NBC News.
His outreach included a meeting in the United Arab Emirates with a militant claiming to be an associate of Mullah Yaqub, son of late Taliban leader Mullah Omar and now one of two deputies to the current Taliban leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, two foreign diplomats said.
The problem is when the insurgents sense their enemy is on the verge of splitting, abandoning the field, what possible incentive do the insurgents have to throw in the towel? Like the North Vietnamese they may make nice until the Americans are gone and then finish off their hapless, corrupt and weakened adversaries.Khalilzad is "testing all channels," said one Western diplomat, who was not authorized to speak on the record.