Afghan president calls on Taliban to 'enter serious talks' with Kabul

Afghan president calls on Taliban to 'enter serious talks' with Kabul

Afghan president calls on Taliban to 'enter serious talks' with Kabul

The Taliban has in the past refused to negotiate directly with Kabul - a standing that does not appear to have changed - and was only prepared to talk with United States officials about the pull-out of foreign forces.

Afghan political analyst Waheed Muzhda says he believes Khalilzad and the Taliban have reached agreement on both the withdrawal of us forces from Afghanistan and a ceasefire deal, but that neither side is prepared to say so at this point.

The militants have said they will only begin talks with the government once a firm date for the withdrawal of US troops has been agreed.

Taliban has been staging daily attacks targeting members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), a war which has been causing thousands of casualties to the Afghan civilians and security forces since their ouster from power. The US invaded Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks.

USA and Taliban negotiators have agreed on a draft framework for a peace deal that would put an end to the 17-year conflict in Afghanistan, Washington's top negotiator has said.

Khalilzad will stay in a Kabul for more talks with the Afghan government Monday, and there are discussions that Khalilzad may go back to Afghanistan in early February.

"The U.S. insisted in their talks with the Taliban that the only solution for lasting peace in Afghanistan is intra-Afghan talks", Khalilzad said, according to a statement.

The US and Taliban officials have reportedly agreed in principle to the framework of a peace deal as the New York Times put it in a report quoting Khalilzad.

The visit will allow the Russian envoy to exchange views with his Pakistani counterparts on the Afghan situation and United States talks with the Taliban. In return for a cease-fire and Taliban talks with the Afghan government, the deal could lead to a full pullout of US troops from Afghanistan, Khalilzad said, according to the paper.


The Taliban on Saturday said progress was "impossible" until an agreement was reached on the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.

The Taliban have long refused to negotiate with the Afghan government, branding them "puppets".

In a televised address on January 28, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani called on the Taliban to enter "serious" negotiations with the government in Kabul and "accept Afghans' demand for peace".

The points of contention include a ceasefire, a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops, and the Taliban's ongoing refusal to speak to Kabul.

U.S. President Donald Trump's clear eagerness to end America's longest war has also weighed heavy on the discussions. No Afghan wants foreign troops to remain in their country indefinitely. The group also rejected a ceasefire and direct talks with Ghani's administration.

He reassured the Afghans the talks in Qatar remain geared towards bringing the insurgents to the table with Kabul, according to a statement released by Ghani's office. It quoted Khalilzad as saying he had discussed a ceasefire deal with the Taliban, but that there was no progress on the issue.

Afghan political analyst Waheed Muzhda says he believes that Khalilzad and the Taliban have reached agreement on both the withdrawal of USA forces from Afghanistan and a cease-fire deal, but that neither side is prepared to say so at this point. Trump last month rebuffed top advisers and made a decision to pull US troops out of Syria as well.

The government, meanwhile, is also facing a presidential election scheduled for July - the middle of the Taliban's traditional fighting season, with fears the poll could unleash a wave of deadly violence as militants seek to disrupt the vote.

They have maintained they are prepared to talk with USA officials only, and only about the pullout of foreign forces from Afghanistan.

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