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Final issues under discussion in peace deal with US: Taliban

AT News Report

KABUL: The Taliban insurgent group has said the text of the peace deal with the US officials has been finalized that would see American forces withdrawal from Afghanistan in exchange for a Taliban promise that the country would not become a haven for international militants.

Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha, said the Taliban and US negotiators would finalize a few remaining particularities in the agreement today (Saturday).

He didn’t provide further details but said: “Majority of the issues have been discussed and only a few remain. The text of the deal is ready but there a few points which will be discussed today.”

Meanwhile, a well-placed government source who wished to go unnamed said the US agreement on its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan was something unlikely to happen soon.

However, Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban member, who lives in Kabul, told Radio Azadi that the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan would happen in a span of 15 months, adding that releasing Taliban prisoners was one of the topics being discussed by the sides.

Meanwhile, Sidiqi Siddiqi, the presidential spokesman, said the Taliban group was still considered a threat to the country’s security and the presence of US forces in Afghanistan was necessary. “Taliban have no commitment to end the war.”

He as an instance mentioned the recent attack of the Taliban on Kunduz. The province came under multi-pronged attack on Friday night and clashes are still ongoing to collapse the province.

“Whatever the Taliban has presented is unacceptable to us. The drawdown in foreign forces is linked to specific conditions,” Siddiqi added.

However, Shaheen said after signing an agreement with the US, the group would initiate the intra-Afghan negotiations.

He said the recent negotiating team appointed by the government would be seen as one of the parties in the intra-Afghan dialogue.

Despite the US and Taliban talks, there has been no so far let-up in violence in the country.

The US special representative for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, who has been leading the talks, is scheduled to be soon in Kabul to brief President Ashraf Ghani about the agreement, according to officials close to the negotiations.

The US and the Taliban negotiators have so far conducted eight rounds of peace talks with the ninth round that started a few days back is still ongoing in Doha which would pave ground for intra-Afghan negotiations.

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