Monday, 18 March, 2019


Afghan Taliban Cancel Peace Talks with US Citing 'Agenda Disagreement'

After nearly 17 years of armed conflict the government controls around 55 per cent of the total territory of Afghanistan while the Taliban control around 11 per cent with the rest being disputed area according to the United States Special Inspector Gen Afghan Taliban Cancel Peace Talks with US Citing 'Agenda Disagreement'
Bennie Garza | 10 January, 2019, 17:39

A fourth round of talks with United States officials in Qatar this week was called off by the Taliban due to an "agenda disagreement" over the involvement of Afghan officials.

"The US officials insisted that the Taliban should meet the Afghan authorities in Qatar and both sides were in disagreement over declaring a ceasefire in 2019", a Taliban source told Reuters.

Talks had been planned for two days starting Wednesday in Qatar, senior Taliban members earlier told Reuters.

In 2001, Iran worked with the United States to help set up a new Afghan government to replace the Taliban, which had been toppled by a US -led military campaign following al Qaeda's September 11 attacks on USA cities.

The Taliban also called off a meeting with USA officials in Saudi Arabia earlier this week because of Riyadh's insistence on bringing the Western-backed Afghan government to the negotiating table. "We haven't seen any change in the Taliban so far and that country that supports them, has not unfortunately changed its policies toward us either", said Abdullah, referring to Pakistan which Kabul accuses of harbouring Taliban leaders. We had official security dialogue last week in Tehran. India did not officially participate in any of the recently held talks with the Taliban.

Efforts for a negotiated settlement of the 18-year war in Afghanistan have gathered pace in recent weeks, even as reports that U.S. President Donald Trump plans to withdraw thousands of U.S. troops have triggered uncertainty in Kabul.

The Taliban terrorist organization considers itself the only legitimate government of Afghanistan, though no other nation grants it such recognition.

The State Department has announced that Khalilzad would lead an interagency delegation to India, China, Afghanistan, and Pakistan in January to meet senior government officials in each country "to facilitate an intra-Afghan political settlement".

"They (Taliban) say that they do not want to talk with the Afghan government, yet they have accepted committing unforgivable crimes", said Abdullah.

As peace talks gained momentum a draft agreement drawn up by the influential US think tank RAND Corporation outlining the clauses for a potential peace deal was circulated among Afghan officials and diplomats in Kabul.

The document suggests that the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation shall end their current military missions in Afghanistan and withdraw all their personnel in three phases, over an expected period of 18 months, but adding that the U.S. civilian cooperation should continue in Afghanistan post deal. It adds that the USA may continue providing civilian assistance and seek contributions from other donors.

When asked if Pakistan was playing its role to push the Taliban to establish contact with the Kabul government, Umar Daudzai, who holds additional charge as President Ashraf Ghani's special adviser on reconciliation affairs, told Arab News in an exclusive interview: "They [Pakistan] say that and there are signs that they are doing it".

The war in Afghanistan is America's longest overseas military intervention.

Sources close to the Taliban leadership revealed to Al Arabiya English that Taliban may back off from peace talks if both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia insist on including Afghanistan government. It has cost Washington almost $1 trillion and killed tens of thousands of people. It keeps around 14,000 troops there as part of a NATO-led mission aiding Afghan security forces and hunting militants.

The war was waged by an global coalition led by the United States in the wake of the September 11 terror attacks.

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