Thursday, 17 October, 2019

Taliban's Qatar Talks End With 'Agreement In Draft'

Pakistan says ‘progress’ made at Taliban-US talks in Qatar US envoy says progress made in talks with Taliban
Patty Aguilar | 13 March, 2019, 14:40

The US had asked Pakistan to assist in its efforts to find a negotiated peace with the Taliban to end the longest war in American history.

Pakistan's foreign minister says "progress has been made" at ongoing peace talks in Qatar between the Taliban and the United States that have stretched over two weeks.

However, other reports suggest that the fifth round of talks ended without any major breakthrough and the two sides are scheduled to meet again at the end of this month to finalize the draft deal.

Pakistan has been playing a crucial role in the process and past year released senior Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who led a high-level Taliban team in marathon meetings with a high-powered American delegation led by Khalilzad in Doha. "Despite ups and downs, we kept things on track and made real strides", Zalmay Khalilzad tweeted.

The 16 days of talks in the Qatari capital Doha produced an agreement "in draft" on a troop withdrawal timeline and counterterrorism assurances, U.S. special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said on Twitter.

He noted that he would engage in discussions in Washington and with other partners.

"For now, both sides will deliberate over the achieved progress, share it with their respective leaderships and prepare for the upcoming meeting".

"The fighting is still on", Mangal said, adding that the Taliban had overrun four posts and government reinforcement backed by air support had been sent to prevent the whole area from falling to the insurgents.

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On the issue of troop withdrawal, it had been previously speculated that U.S. forces could leave Afghanistan within five years as part of a deal to end the almost 18-year war.

In a statement, the Taliban said one air strike hit a minibus and a second followed quickly, killing a total of 12 people and wounding six.

Almost 3,500 foreign troops including 2,300 Americans have died in Afghanistan.

Washington intervened in Afghanistan in 2001 to help overthrow a Taliban government that had sheltered Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda group, responsible for the September 11 attacks that killed almost 3,000 people in the United States.

Meanwhile, on the ground in Afghanistan, the violence continues.

It is unclear as yet when the next round of talks will take place.

U.S. President Barack Obama addresses on the timetable of ending Afghanistan war and U.S. Taliban peace talks in Kabul, May 2, 2012.

The talks which finished on Tuesday spanned 16 days, which is thought to be the longest consecutive discussions held between both sides.

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