Marathon talks between the US and the Taliban in Doha make substantial progress
Doha has always been keen to act as an intermediary between rival factions across the world. And the latest talks it is hosting is between Afghanistan’s Taliban and the USA.
Reports state that the talks have made substantial progress in their latest round, from February 25 to March 12, in Qatar. The last round of peace talks had taken place from January 21 to 26, reported Gulf Times.
The peace talks are an effort to end America’s 17-year war in Afghanistan, and both sides said progress had been made.
(1/4) Just finished a marathon round of talks with the Taliban in #Doha. The conditions for #peace have improved. It’s clear all sides want to end the war. Despite ups and downs, we kept things on track and made real strides.— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) March 12, 2019
The latest talks produced two draft agreements between the militants and the US government on a 'withdrawal timeline and effective counterterrorism measures,’ American envoy Zalmay Khalilzad wrote on Twitter.
(2/4) Peace requires agreement on four issues: counter-terrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire. In January talks, we "agreed in principle" on these four elements. We're now "agreed in draft" on the first two.— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) March 12, 2019
“The conditions for #peace have improved. It’s clear all sides want to end the war. Despite ups and downs, we kept things on track and made real strides,” Khalilzad wrote on Twitter.
(3/4) When the agreement in draft about a withdrawal timeline and effective counterterrorism measures is finalized, the Taliban and other #Afghans, including the government, will begin intra-Afghan negotiations on a political settlement and comprehensive ceasefire.— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) March 12, 2019
The diplomat said he’d go to Washington and meet with other concerned parties, likely including the Afghan government, which did not take part in the 13 days of face-to-face talks in Doha, according to AP News.
(4/4) My next step is discussions in Washington and consultations with other partners. We will meet again soon, and there is no final agreement until everything is agreed.— U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad (@US4AfghanPeace) March 12, 2019
The Taliban issued their statement, saying ‘progress was achieved’ on both of those issues. It stressed no cease-fire deal had been reached, nor any agreement for it to speak to the Afghan government.
“For now, both sides will deliberate over the achieved progress, share it with their respective leaderships and prepare for the upcoming meeting, the date of which shall be set by both negotiation teams,” the statement read.
Talks focused on two main issues — the withdrawal of the US and Coalition Forces from Afghanistan, and the Taliban's commitment to preventing and denying the use of Afghan soil in a manner that threatens the security of the US, its allies, or any other country.
The two parties, assisted by Qatari mediators, agreed that a lasting peace agreement should be based on four main interlinked components that shall be executed under an agreed upon timeline and conditions.
It isn’t immediately clear when the next round of talks will begin.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan has helped push the peace talks, which in turn has helped Islamabad’s long-troubled relationship with Washington.
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