Monday, 19 August, 2019

Latest US-Taliban talks end, both sides to consult: Taliban

Taliban spokesperson says latest round of talks were Taliban spokesperson says latest round of talks were"long and useful. — AP File
Patty Aguilar | 12 August, 2019, 18:26

"They were productive. I am on my way back to DC to consult on next steps", Khalilzad wrote.

The US and Taliban representatives have been negotiating since October 12, 2018 in Doha, capital of Qatar to strike a peace deal and end the 18 years' war in the country.

Khalilzad had tweeted during the just concluded talks that "we have made excellent progress", raising exceptions a deal was imminent.

The President also called for Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace talks, emphasizing that no talks could deliver result in the absence of Afghan government's delegation.

Many Afghans had been hoping for a ceasefire to be announced over Eid. I know Afghans yearn for peace.

He also said a presidential election, scheduled for September 28, in which he hopes to win a second term, was essential.

The talks, held in Qatar since late a year ago between the Taliban and United States officials, have brought hopes for an agreement allowing U.S. troops to leave in exchange for a Taliban promise that Afghanistan will not be used by militants as a base from which to plot attacks overseas.

Without a Taliban commitment to power-sharing talks and a ceasefire, there are fears the insurgents will fight on when USA forces leave in a bid to overthrow the government.

There was no immediate comment from the United States embassy in Kabul.

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FILE - Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani attends the first day of campaigning in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 28, 2019.

President Ashraf Ghani on Sunday appeared to question the talks, saying his nation would decide its future, not outsiders.

"Our future can not be decided outside, whether in the capital cities of our friends or neighbours. Our future fate will not be decided in foreign countries. the future and fate of this country will be decided here in Afghanistan", he added.

The chief USA negotiator, veteran Afghan-American diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad, said this round of talks had been concluded and he was on his way back to Washington for consultations.

In his address to the nation on Sunday to mark the Islamic festival of Eid al-Azha, Ghani said:"Election is vital for taking strong and hard decisions in peace process".

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the eighth round of talks, which a USA official said earlier involved technical details of the implementation of the pact, ended in the early hours and both sides would consult their leaders. "My very best wishes", tweeted the Afghan-born American diplomat.

The U.S. negotiators demanded that the Taliban announce a ceasefire and start direct talks with the Kabul government, the Taliban official said.

It is widely perceived that a deal with the Taliban may lead to the postponement of the presidential election to allow the process to be held under a transitional setup, inclusive of insurgents.

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