United States hails talks with Taliban, denies troop withdrawal window

07 Juillet, 2019, 01:20 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar the Taliban group's top political leader second from left arrives with other members of the Taliban delegation for talks in Moscow Russia. The seventh and latest

Taliban and US negotiators are scrambling to finalize a draft agreement that will outline the withdrawal of American and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops from Afghanistan and a verifiable Taliban guarantee to fight terrorism ahead of an all-Afghan peace conference Sunday.

"There is still important work left to be done before we have an agreement", he said, adding the ongoing peace talks will resume on July 9 after the intra-Afghan dialogue.

Khalilzad's appointment last September began the accelerated effort to find a negotiated end to Afghanistan's war.

"We are trying to reach an understanding with them on a withdrawal plan which is acceptable to us and they also have no problem with it", said Khairkhwa.

During a visit to Kabul last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States was seeking an Afghan peace deal before September.

Since then, Khalilzad has held scores of talks with the Afghan government in Kabul and overseas, with the Taliban as well as with Afghanistan's neighbours including Pakistan. The insurgents, however, say they will sit down with any Afghan, even a government official, but as an ordinary citizen and not as a government representative.

An American official familiar with the talks also disputed the 18-month withdrawal time frame, without saying what the USA was proposing.

President Donald Trump is impatient to pull the remaining 14,000 U.S. troops out of Afghanistan, believing nothing more can be achieved from the military operation launched after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

More than 2,400 U.S. service personnel have died in Afghanistan since the US-led coalition invaded in October 2001 to oust the Taliban and hunt down al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

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A member of the American negotiating team in Qatar's capital, Doha, where the Taliban maintain a political office and talks are being held, told The Associated Press Friday that the U.S. The organizers and the Taliban, however, have clarified that Afghan officials will be attending the talks in their personal capacity.

The US negotiator said the deal being negotiated in Doha with the Taliban is "comprehensive and includes specifics on all four parts including a cease fire, timeline, participating in intra-Afghan negotiations and counter-terrorism assurances".

While the American side has been tight-lipped about the talks, Taliban officials insisted the two sides have "certainly made good progress" to conclude a draft text outlining a troop withdrawal timetable and guarantees that the Taliban will not support or allow transnational terrorist groups to use insurgent-controlled areas.

An earlier round of intra-Afghan talks, which were to be held last April, were scuttled after the two sides could not agree on participants. The Afghan government had submitted a list of 250 people. The Taliban likened it to a wedding party.

Khalilzad, an Afghan-born American diplomat, wants to secure a political settlement with the Taliban, which now controls more Afghan territory than at any time since being toppled in 2001 by USA -led forces.

Attaullah Rahman Salim, the deputy head of the government's high peace council, said 64 would be sitting around the table.

The list includes former mujahedeen who fought the Soviet in the 1980s as well as former government officials, former ambassadors, civil society representatives and a smattering of women.

Participants at the table will be there "on equal footing" and not as government representatives, according to the German and Qatari sponsors of the talks.

Afghan President Ghani, who has been conspicuously quiet about the upcoming intra-Afghan dialogue, has consistently demanded the Taliban talk directly with the government.

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