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Zalmay Khalilzad claimed excellent progress with Taliban

06 August, 2019

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US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad Monday claimed “excellent progress” in talks with the Taliban in Qatar. Khalilzad tweeted that talks with the Taliban will continue and that he will visit India to “further build international consensus” in support of the Afghan peace process.

The two sides started new round on Saturday but failed to reach any agreement on the third day of the talks. “My team & Taliban representatives will continue to discuss technical details as well as steps and mechanisms required for a successful implementation of the four-part agreement we’ve been working toward since my appointment. Agreement on these details is essential,” Khalilzad wrote on twitter.

He also the US side the talks in Doha focused on the remaining issues in completing a potential deal with the Taliban that would allow for a conditions-based troop withdrawal.

It seems there is stalemate in Qatar talks on time frame for withdrawal of foreign forces. Although both agreed on troops’ withdrawal, Taliban want withdrawal in nine months and the US has suggested 18 months.

But member of a Taliban negotiations team said earlier agreement could reach on one year or 13 month. Head of Taliban political office Mullah Baradar also joined the talks to end stalemate on Sunday but they could not remove differences.

A Taliban source said date for the start of withdrawal is also an issue of differences. He said Taliban have assured the US that they would not allow any group to operate against the US and any other country.

He said the US wants Taliban publicly announce they would cut ties with al-Qaeda. But Taliban are disagreed and insist they would generally condemn terrorism but will not mention any specific group.

Taliban sources say both sides have agreed to reduce the level of violence after they sign the peace deal. But Taliban say a formal ceasefire would be announced at the conclusion of intra Afghan dialogue.

The talks are planned in Norway within two weeks after both formally announce peace deal. Taliban were confident earlier to reach deal before Eidul Azha. However, it now seems difficult as Taliban want presence of representatives of Russia and China during the signing of agreement.

Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen has clarified that no country or representatives of other countries are participating in the talks. He tweeted that only Qatar is participating in the talks.

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