US-Taliban Talks Enter 2nd Day As Jirga Continues In Kabul
The sixth round of talks between the US and the Taliban delegates entered second day in Doha, Qatar, on Thursday where the two sides reportedly discussed some key issues including a timeframe for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan, assurance that Afghanistan’s territory will not be used as a threat against other nations following a peace agreement, a potential ceasefire, and intra-Afghan talks.
Meanwhile, in Kabul, the Grand Consultative Jirga on Peace is underway for the 4th day where Afghans from various regions of the country are exchanging views on the prospects of peace in the country.
The Afghan government has expected the US to convince the Taliban to endorse direct talks with it.
On Wednesday, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad met with the Taliban’s deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Doha, Qatar, according to a statement released by the group’s spokesman.
The two sides exchanged views on a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan, the statement said.
In this meeting, Baradar clarified that there is a need to finalize the two important agendas of the previous meeting which include the “complete” withdrawal of all foreign forces from Afghanistan and the assurance that Afghanistan’s soil will not be used against others, the statement added.
“Today, four topics will be discussed, including a ceasefire, intra-Afghan talks, a timeframe for the withdrawal of foreign forces and the assurance that Afghanistan’s soil will not be used as a threat against the US,” said Mawlawi Abdul Shakoor Mateen, a former Taliban member.
“They are trying that the way is paved for intra-Afghan talks, any step which will lead to the stoppage of the war, we welcome it,” said Omid Maisam, deputy spokesman to CEO.
The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) also said that Washington’s role in lasting peace in Afghanistan is crucial.
“The only solution to the Afghan conflict is direct talks between the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the Taliban. We hope that Doha meeting will pave the way for direct talks,” said MoFA spokesman Sibghatullah Ahmadi.
But, neither the Taliban nor Washington have officially confirmed that if the issue of a ceasefire and intra-Afghan talks were discussed in the meeting between the two sides.
While the Taliban insists on complete foreign troop withdrawal, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a wide-ranging interview to a congressional news outlet, The Hill, emphasized the need for a broad coalition of non-Taliban Afghans to strengthen the Afghan peace process.
He said that Washington will continue is anti-terror operations.
Pompeo said that ending the Afghan war and violence and continuing counterterrorism operations are the two most important goals of the US in Afghanistan.
“We are working to achieve a reconciliation so that this conflict now coming on two decades can be resolved. We can take down the violence level, we can get a political outcome. That’s a necessary condition,” Pompeo said. “The second necessary condition is that we continue to be able to perform our counter-terror operations, the ones we were speaking about before.”
In the fifth round of their talks in Qatar, the US and Taliban agreed in the draft on foreign forces withdrawal and counterterrorism assurances.
Amid the US efforts over the Afghan peace in Doha, the Grand Consultative Jirga for Peace is ongoing in Kabul to specify the framework for peace talks with the Taliban.
Mohammad Umer Daudzai, head of the secretariat of the High Peace Council and head of the Peace Jirga’s organizing committee, on Wednesday called on Taliban to hear to the Jirga’s voice.
“I believe that the Jirga is a logical start for the peace process,” Daudzai said.
Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for Taliban’s political office in Qatar, last month told reporters in Doha that the war will come to an end in the country and the Taliban fighters will join the ranks of the Afghan army if the two sides sealed an agreement on the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.