US, Taliban resume talks in Qatar
Wednesday, 01 May 2019
The Afghan Taliban militant group and the United States have resumed a new round of negotiations — excluding the Kabul government — in Qatar while Afghan officials continue to host a rare assembly at home to ensure their interests are met in any peace deal with Taliban.
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): The Afghan Taliban militant group and the United States have resumed a new round of negotiations — excluding the Kabul government — in Qatar while Afghan officials continue to host a rare assembly at home to ensure their interests are met in any peace deal with Taliban.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told Reuters on Wednesday that representatives of the government — which the militant groups views as illegitimate — were not allowed to take part in the sixth round of the US-Taliban talks in the Qatari capital, Doha.
“There will be no other side except the US and Taliban representatives in the meeting, but some Qatari officials will remain present as hosts,” he added.
The American Embassy in Kabul is yet to comment on the news.
US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad is expected to attend the Doha discussions.
In an interview with Afghanistan’s TOLO news channel, Khalilzad said that any peace agreement with the Taliban would depend on the declaration of a permanent ceasefire and a commitment to end the war.
The Afghan-born US diplomat ‘also stressed that the Taliban’s demands were focused on the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan.
He added that Washington was “a bit impatient” to end the war, given its $45 billion annual cost to the US taxpayer and the toll it takes on US forces.
The US has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan. President Donald Trump said last December that he wanted to pull about half of American troops out of the country.
During the fifth round of the US-Taliban talks in Doha, which ended in mid-March, the two sides “agreed in draft” on the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan in return for preventing the country’s soil from being used as a hub for terrorism.