Tuesday, 21 August, 2018

Taliban official says group spoke with U.S

Taliban Describes as ‘Productive’ Initial Direct Talks with US Taliban holds first direct talks with US over future peace talks
Gerardo Duncan | 30 July, 2018, 22:49

However, according to the New York Times, the US State Department did not deny that its diplomats had taken part in any talks.

A former Taliban minister also confirmed that a meeting between us officials and the Taliban took place earlier this week in Doha.

'The environment was positive and the discussion was useful, ' the Taliban official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

President Donald Trump's diplomatic team is reportedly negotiating directly with Taliban officials as he surrenders large swaths of the country to the Islamists who gave safe-haven to the terrorists responsible for the September 11th attacks. It will effectively ensure that the Taliban and other insurgent groups will hold on to territory they have seized, leaving the government in Kabul to safeguard the capital and cities such as Kandahar, Kunduz, Mazar-e-Sharif and Jalalabad.

The Taliban are reported to have insisted that no Afghan officials should be present at the meeting with Ms Wells.

NYT noted that the Taliban have long maintained an informal "political office" in Doha for the objective of restarting the long-dormant peace process.

They also say they want a time frame for the withdrawal of the roughly 15,000 USA and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops still in Afghanistan.

Until now, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani's national security team said it is ready to hold talks with the Taleban at any time and that their allies, including the United States, should participate only as observers.

The retreat to the cities is a searing acknowledgment that the US -installed government in Afghanistan remains unable to lead and protect the country's sprawling rural population.

The meeting in Doha came as the Afghan government is considering another unilateral ceasefire with the insurgents during the upcoming Eid festival in August to encourage the Taliban to come to the table for peace talks.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration told its senior diplomats that they could kick start the process of negotiations with the Taliban.

The current Taliban leadership, most of whom are Mullah Omar's contemporaries, still believe their future in Afghanistan can be guaranteed only if the United States' concerns are addressed.

Eaton said the plan to prod the Afghan military to abandon the unpopulated areas and retrench to cities is "a rational approach to secure the cities, and provide the Afghanistan government the political opportunity to work with the Taliban".

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