Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

Taliban, Afghans end talks with 'promise to reduce violence'

Taliban chief negotiator Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai Afghans agree on 'road map for peace' at Doha talks
Patty Aguilar | 09 July, 2019, 15:40

Dozens of powerful Afghans met with a Taliban delegation, amid separate talks between the U.S. and the insurgents seeking to end 18 years of war.

"There are some important issues that have remained", Khalilzad said. Zalmay Khalidzad, the USA envoy for Afghanistan, said the meeting had made substantial progress towards resolving the 18-year-old long conflict. He said it was good that they had a chance to "hear from Afghans how the country has changed" in recent years, and that they seemed less "arrogant" than in the past.

Despite the group's refusal to meet with Kabul officials, the Taliban did participate in negotiations with a 60-member delegation of Afghan society representatives on Monday, a move that the US believes will bring the talks closer to an intra-Afghan peace agreement. However, for months, the talks have hit a roadblock over the refusal of the Taliban to accept the legitimacy of the government of president Ashraf Ghani.

The US did not participate directly in the two-day Afghan summit, which was attended by political heavyweights, government officials and at least six women.

As peace talks between the Taliban and the United States have entered the 7th round, Karzai stressed that transparency in negotiations will immensely help the process evolve.

While such an agreement might let the United States extricate itself from its longest-ever war, it might not bring peace between the US-backed government based in Kabul and the terrorists. "Senior [Afghan] government people are here-the president's senior advisers... everyone, as far as the Afghan dialogue is concerned, is here in their personal capacity".

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Washington's Peace Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has said he is hoping for a final agreement by Sept 1, which would allow the withdrawal of United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops.

"While they are negotiating in Qatar, they murder innocent civilians, including women and children, in cold blood, in Afghanistan", Ghani said.

Matin Beg, head of the Independent Directorate of Local Governance, has stated that the aim of this meeting is to present the Taliban with the changes made in Afghanistan since the past 18 years and so the dialogue could potentially lead to direct negotiations between the government and the Taliban leaders.

Khalilzad said the presidential poll could still go ahead as planned on September 28 even if no deal has been reached, but reiterated hopes a deal could be clinched in time.

He also expressed hope that this event would mark the beginning of a meaningful process leading to a comprehensive and sustainable peace in Afghanistan.

Dozens of powerful Afghans resumed talks with the Taliban on Monday in Doha, where a possible ceasefire is on the table along with key issues such as women's rights. "The Iran deal is not the first deal we've got out of", said Khalilzad. "We want to go to the dialogue but they are not letting us", Stanikzai said to an officer, who replied: "We are not joking with you, stop shouting at us".

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