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‘Brief pause’ in US-Taliban negotiations

AT News

KABUL: The US and Taliban negotiators temporarily stopped talks in the Persian Gulf state of Qatar after an attack targeted a hospital close to the US air base in the Bagram district of Parwan province on Tuesday.

The negotiations began on Saturday after a three-month long lull, but the US representative for Afghanistan peace, Zalmay Khalilzad said Friday that he took the pause to protest the attack that Taliban claimed responsibility.

“We are taking a brief pause for them (Taliban) to consult their leadership,” Khalilzad said on Twitter. “When I met the Talibs, I expressed outrage about the attack on Bgram, which recklessly killed two and wounded dozens of civilians. Taliban must show they are willing and able to respond to Afghan desire for peace.”

Khalilzad was reportedly left for Pakistan after pausing the talks with Taliban to discuss the peace negotiations with officials in Islamabad.

But, Sohail Shahin, Taliban spokesman for their political office in Qatar, said Friday that they asked for the pause of negotiations to consult their leaders. He rejected Bagram attack as reason of the talks pause, saying that the attack was not discussed.

“Of course, they (US side) hinted the Bagram attack, but we also pointed to their attacks and bombardments that killed our innocent country-fellows,” Shahin said.

The Bagram attack left two dead and more than 70 wounded, according to official reports. The NATO-led Resolute Support Mission said that the attackers who had hidden inside a medical facility, were killed in airstrikes. The mission said in a statement that a number of foreign troops were “slightly” injured in the attack.

Taliban officials had earlier said that they agreed with the US to stop attacking each others. The group also said that they would hold talks with the Afghan government soon after gaining a deal with the US.

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