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Qatar Talks;US, Taliban to release joint statement over peace talks Saturday

 AT-KABUL: The fourth round of meeting between the United States envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation, Zalmay Khalilzad with the Taliban group is at edge of yielding result as both sides would probably release a joint statement today (Saturday).

Sources close to Taliban said Friday that the two sides were expected to release a joint statement, but it postponed for Saturday due to some differences, which might be resolved within hours.

The US and Taliban negotiators retook talks earlier this week in the Qatari capital after the Taliban warned to stop negotiations, claiming that Khalilzad was going astray from the agenda.

The sources suggested by the Kabul News, said that Khalilzad asked Taliban to assure Ghani administration of direct talks in their statement, but the militants’ representatives rejected the request.

Taliban emphasize that negotiations needed to focus on the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan and that the country should be used against other states.

Moreover, with reaching its six conservative days of talks between US officials and the Taliban Qatar-based members, source familiar with Doha talks said that they busy negotiating withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan and assertion of ceasefire.

The two sides are also said to have inched closer towards more discussions on a ceasefire, The News International quoted diplomatic sources as saying in a report from Doha.

On the fifth day of negotiations with US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, the Taliban reportedly sought a timeframe for the withdrawal of American forces.

For its part, the US delegation renewed its call for an immediate truce. “The representatives of Taliban have shown flexibility on the peace process,” the newspaper reported.

“The issues are Taliban political legitimacy, ceasefire and permanent peace. One issue which is very important is talks with Afghanistan government, because Taliban has not talked with Afghan government delegation,” TOLONews quoted Bilal Ahmad Niazi, a political affairs analyst as saying.

Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani’s Special Envoy Umer Daudzai led a delegation to China on Friday to build regional consensus on the Afghan peace process.

In his visit to Beijing, Daudzai met with Deng Xijun, China’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, where they discussed regional consensus on the Afghan peace process and the role of China in the process.

“Talks will be held on Afghan peace process and facilitating peace and security in Afghanistan. Also talks will focus on economy in the region and the (transit) routes which go through Afghanistan,” Sayed Ehsan Taheri, spokesman of the High Peace Council said.

Moreover, Taliban announced that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, senior official and one of four founders of the group was appointed as chief of their Doha-based political office.

Baradar who is believed to be interested in peace talks with the government, was arrested by Pakistani police in 2010 in the port city of Karachi. He was released in 2018 after being held in Pakistan detention and some political analysts believe that his release took place by Khalilzad’s request from Islamabad as a good gesture for the peace process development.

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