Thursday, 24 January, 2019

Peace Talks Between Afghan Taliban and USA to Take Place on Wednesday

US Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad On Afghanistan To Visit India Taliban, US to sit down to peace talks
Patty Aguilar | 10 January, 2019, 17:36

Afghan Taliban representatives say they have called off two days of peace talks with USA officials in Qatar, just hours after they had announced the talks would take place without any delegates from Afghanistan's government. "The meeting will continue for two days - Wednesday and Thursday", said a senior member of the Afghan Taliban on condition of anonymity.

According to the Afghan envoy, no final talks have taken place between the U.S. and Taliban thus far, which is why they are refusing to hold a meeting with the Afghan government.

The US special envoy is actively trying to broker a political solution to the Afghan conflict and has held multiple meetings with the leadership of Afghanistan as well as that of other countries in the region, including Pakistan.

The Taliban, Afghanistan's largest armed group which was toppled from power by a US-led invasion in 2001, called off their meeting with the United States officials in Saudi Arabia this week following Riyadh's insistence on bringing the Western-backed Afghan government to the table.

"This time we want to hold talks with the American officials", said a Taliban leader based in Afghanistan, adding that the talks in Qatar would involve a United States withdrawal, prisoner exchange and the lifting of a ban on movement of Taliban leaders.

While denying it made a specific overture to Shamkani, the spokeswoman repeated that Trump is open to a dialog with Iran on "urgent national security issues" and wants Tehran to "make fundamental changes in their destructive behavior".

He said the Taliban must endorse the constitution and hold talks within the framework of the Afghan government.

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said that it is impossible to have a future Afghan government without a role for the Taliban.

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"But we also believe that the Taliban should not have a dominant role in Afghanistan". As peace talks gain momentum a draft agreement drawn up by the influential United States think tank RAND Corporation outlining the clauses for a potential peace deal has been circulated among Afghan officials and diplomats in Kabul. He denied that Kabul was being marginalized in the peace process and said all countries pursuing negotiations were briefing the government every step of the way. It adds that the United States may continue providing civilian assistance.

The insurgents, seeking to reimpose strict Islamic law after their 2001 ouster by US-led troops, called off a meeting with USA officials in Saudi Arabia this week because of Riyadh's insistence on bringing the Western-backed Afghan government to the table.

There are indications that Pakistan is pushing the Taliban to enter into direct talks with the Kabul government to resolve a long-standing conflict in Afghanistan, Arab News quoted head of Afghanistan's High Peace Council as saying on Wednesday.

The US is seeking a lasting peace to the country's longest war, which as cost almost 1 trillion dollars and thousands of lives.

Western diplomats based in Kabul said Pakistan's cooperation in the peace process will be crucial to its success. It has cost Washington almost a trillion dollars and killed tens of thousands of people. We had contacts with the Taliban because they control some bordering areas.

The US still keeps around 14,000 troops there as part of a NATO-led mission aiding Afghan security forces and hunting militants.

The war was waged by an global coalition led by the United States in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks.

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