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Withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan will help create conducive environment: Afgan Taliban

01 April, 2019

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Afghan Taliban Sunday said agreement with the United States on withdrawal of foreign forces will help create an environment conducive to solution to all other issues.

Taliban political spokesman Suhail Shaheen was speaking ahead of the new round of talks with US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and the second meeting between the Taliban and Afghan political leaders.

Taliban and US officials have claimed ‘progress’ in previous meetings but failed to strike any deal, apparently on Taliban’s reluctance to declare ceasefire, talk to the Kabul administration and differences over timeline for withdrawal of the foreign forces. “We are now discussing withdrawal of the foreign forces and an end to the invasion. We want to reach an agreement on this issue as it is important to us. This phase has not yet been completed. For the US, the issue is to prevent Afghan soil from being used for terrorism against the US and its allies in future,” Shaheen told Daily Times from Doha, the capital of Qatar, where the Taliban have political headquarters.

“The two issues had been under discussions in recent meetings and there had been progress too. A final agreement needs more discussions that will be held in the coming meetings. There are some issues which are yet to be settled like timeline for the withdrawal of the foreign forces and on which date withdrawal will start. These issues could be resolved in the coming meetings,” he said.

Taliban have rejected possibility of negotiations with the government on the plea that they do not consider the government as a party to the conflict and that the government has no authority to make decisions.

When asked about repeated calls on the Taliban to join talks with the government, he said a deal with the US on troop withdrawal will open avenues for solution to other issues. “Deal on withdrawal and to counter terrorism in future will pave the way for an environment conducive to intra-Afghan understanding. We have taken a step for the intra-Afghan talks with our participation in the Moscow talks in February,” Shaheen said. He said another conference of Moscow talks will be held in Doha in mid-April and the Taliban political envoys will meet senior Afghan politicians to discuss various aspects of the Afghan problem.

Afghan government had stopped members of the High Peace Council from participating in the Moscow talks.

Taliban’s former ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef says the Taliban and political leaders will hold two-day talks in Doha on April 14-15. “We will discuss internal issues with Afghans. This is internal aspect of the problem. We meet Afghans and we have met Afghans, who do not have official positions and do not represent the invasion,” the Taliban spokesman insisted.

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