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AfghanTaliban-US officials not reached any agreement in Qatar: Taliban spokesman

04 March, 2019

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Afghan Taliban and US officials have not reached any agreement in the current round of peace talks in Qatar so far, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement on Sunday. Mujahid, however, said the ongoing dialogue process in Doha is ‘gradually moving forward’.

Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen earlier said the talks focused on the complete withdrawal of foreign troops and to prevent Afghan soil from terrorism in future.

Mujahid said the latest round of negotiations discussed the details of the withdrawal and terrorism on which both sides had agreed during their talks in January. “As the issues (withdrawal and terrorism threat) are very important and sensitive, so the process is moving forward with caution,” he said.

He said reports about other issues being discussed were just speculations. He did not cite other issues but reports had stated that the US wants the Taliban declare ceasefire and join the intra-Afghan dialogue. The Taliban are unwilling to sit with the Kabul administration until there is progress on their call for withdrawal of foreign forces.

Sources told Daily Times that Taliban and the US failed to agree on draft agreement apparently due to some technical issues, including announcement of a timeframe for withdrawal of foreign troops, Taliban’s refusal to declare a ceasefire and start talks with the Afghan government. When asked him if the current round has concluded, Mujahid said talks in Qatar will continue.

Sources familiar with the talks say that there are also differences on the time frame for the troops withdrawal as Taliban want total withdrawal within six months. The US is not agreeing to this proposal.

Taliban have long been demanding the US to announce a timetable for withdrawal of their troops and in return they will assure not to allow Afghanistan to be used by armed groups against other countries. Sources also believe the two sides did not finalize agreement as the US side wanted to seek consent of the Afghan government.

On the other hand, the Afghan government has said it is in the process of formation of a powerful team to hold talks with Taliban and has requested the Afghan political leaders to nominate members for the team.

Presidential spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri said in Kabul that the team will be announced after the parties share names of their representatives.

The focus will now be on the next round of Moscow talks between the Taliban and Afghan political leaders that is likely to be held in Qatar later this month. The first round of the talks was held in Moscow in February, which had endorsed the Taliban-US negotiations and demanded withdrawal of the foreign forces and lifting of sanctions from the Taliban leaders.

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