Qatar Talks Moving In The Right Direction: HPC

The talks between the US and the Taliban delegations entered the fourth day in Doha, Qatar, as fresh spate of violence grips the country in several fronts including an attack by a group of Taliban gunmen who stormed the police headquarters in Pul-e-Khumri city in Afghanistan’s northern Baghlan province on Sunday afternoon. 

Local officials said that the attack has left eight dead and over 50 others wounded.

“Currently, the negotiations are in a good phase and they are moving in the right direction,” said Assadullah Zahiri, a spokesman for High Peace Council, a body which conducts peace efforts in country-level under the Afghan government.

Sources familiar with Doha talks said the gap is narrowing between the US delegation and the Taliban members on issues around foreign forces withdrawal and counterterrorism assurances. The sources said the two sides have managed to overcome the “stalemate” on a timeline for troop withdrawal at this stage.

The four topics under discussion in this round of the talks are foreign forces’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, counterterrorism assurances, ceasefire and direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Last time in mid-March, the two sides agreed in draft on troop withdrawal and counterterrorism assurances. But according to US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, nothing will be final until an agreement on all four issues.

Two former members of the Taliban told that the outcome of this round of talks has been “positive” so far.

“Hopefully, the outcome of talks yesterday (Saturday, May 4) were positive and their (the US and the Taliban) positions are narrowing on foreign forces withdrawal from Afghanistan,” said Mawlawi Abdul Shakoor Mateen, a former Taliban member.

“The key for success of the talks is only a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan and then we can talk about other issues,” said Mawlawi Qalamuddin, a former member of Taliban.

Last week, Khalilzad asked the Taliban to lay down arms and join peace as part of the efforts to move the process forward. However, the Taliban rejected the call.

This round of talks is a continuation of the last two rounds of talks that took place in Doha between the two parties, which aim to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan.

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