Published: Thu, March 14, 2019
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Pakistan says ‘progress’ made at Taliban-US talks in Qatar

Pakistan says ‘progress’ made at Taliban-US talks in Qatar

Khalilzad wrote on Twitter that "the conditions for peace have improved" after a round of talks with Taliban leaders in Qatar's capital, Dohar, as the two sides had agreed on two of the four issues needed to end the conflict.

"We will meet again soon, and there is no final agreement until everything is agreed", he said.

The US had asked Pakistan to assist in its efforts to find a negotiated peace with the Taliban to end the longest war in American history.

He said "Peace requires agreement on four issues: counter-terrorism assurances, troop withdrawal, intra-Afghan dialogue, and a comprehensive ceasefire".

The US has also been pushing the Taliban to agree to a ceasefire and to talk with Afghanistan's government, which the militant group considers a US puppet regime.

Hours after the news broke on Qatar talks, US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said in a tweet that he wrapped up a marathon round of talks with Taliban in Doha.

The US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation said Tuesday that weeks of negotiations with Taliban negotiators had yielded a draft agreement on two issues related to Afghan peace. "Despite ups and downs, we kept things on track and made real strides", he said.

He said that in the fresh round of talks, the two sides were able to move to agreement in draft on the first two principles.

The talks were held in a closed-off banquet hall at the five-star Ritz-Carlton seaside hotel on the southern end of Doha.

It is unclear as yet when the next round of talks will take place.

The Afghan government said it was pleased with the progress.

"We appreciate how hard it is to end 18 years of war".

The 16 days of talks, in which the United States also sought assurances that Taliban insurgents will not use Afghanistan to stage attacks, are expected to resume in late March.

On the issue of troop withdrawal, it had been previously speculated that U.S. forces could leave Afghanistan within five years as part of a deal to end the almost 18-year war. Some U.S. forces carry out counter-terrorism operations.

Another Taliban source said on condition of anonymity there was frustration on some issues during the peace talks and that a senior member of the Islamist group told USA officials at one point that the Taliban are "not their servants" and need no US approval for any future decisions.

Up to this point, the Ghani government has been skeptical and critical of the U.S. -Taliban meetings because it has been left out of the process.

"That sequence is a large concession to Taliban that may keep process moving but at cost of transferring leverage from Taliban", tweeted Laurel Miller, former US acting special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Since then, however, the Taliban has regained control or contests more than 50 percent of Afghan territory and continues to inflict major battlefield setbacks on Afghan security forces being backed and trained by the American military.

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