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Kabul praises US efforts to encourage Taliban for direct talks

AT-KABUL: The chief executive office praised efforts by the US team for encouraging Taliban militants hold face to face talks with the government, an optimism that seems far from being fulfilled as the insurgents repeatedly denied talks with President Ghani’s administration.

A spokesman of the chief executive said Wednesday that some “friendly states” particularly the United States were trying to convince the militants for talks.

“We are still optimistic and hopeful that Taliban hold meet Afghanistan’s negotiating team. Our regional and US friends are trying to pave the ground and encourage Taliban to hold face to face talks with government’s team,” said Feraidoon Khozon.

Taliban representatives met last day with Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation in the United Arab Emirates, but the group dismissed plans to meet the government’s team.

Presidential press office announced Tuesday that a negotiating team chaired by Abdul Salam Rahimi, President Ghani’s chief of staff visited Abu Dhabi for imminent negotiations with Taliban.

But Taliban Spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid said their negotiating team would not meet government’s delegation. He added that their team would likely extend negotiations with Khalilzad for a second round focusing on the peace process in the country.

Taliban representatives also met with officials from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan in Abu Dhabi.

The US and Taliban negotiators were reported to have discussed a six-month ceasefire, interim government, prisoner release and lifting of the group’s leaders from the US blacklist.

But Mujahid denied these issues, saying only the foreign troops’ drawdown and aerial attacks were discussed with Khalilzad.

Political analyst, Ahmad Saeedi said that Taliban did not accept the US and UAE demands to meet with Afghan government delegation. He added that Taliban’s insisting on the timetable of the US forces’ pullout shows they would probably meet with the government of Afghanistan in the future.

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