Taliban want 'lion’s share of power' in peace deal – U.S. special envoy


FILE PHOTO: U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad listens to a video question from U.S. Representative Susan Wild (D-PA) as he testifies about the potential withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan at a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. May 18, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Taliban are demanding in U.S.-backed peace talks “the lion’s share of power” in any political settlement, U.S. Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said on Tuesday.

"At this point, they are demanding that they take the lion's share of power in the next government given the military situation as they see it," Khalilzad told the Aspen Security Forum in an online conference.

Khalilzad, the architect of the 2020 U.S. troop withdrawal deal with the Taliban, repeated Washington's call for a negotiated peace accord, saying that the last 40 years of conflict in Afghanistan "has no legitimacy any more."

"It's just a struggle for a balance of power, dispensation of power between various factions," he continued in remarks that risked angering the U.S.-backed government in Kabul.

(Reporting by Jonathan Landay; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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