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Taliban meet US officials in UAE for peace talks

By Farhad Naibkhel-KABUL: The Taliban held another meeting on Monday with USofficials in the United Arab Emirates involving Afghan, Saudi, and Emirati andPakistani representatives in the latest attempt to bring a negotiated solutionto Afghanistan’s grilling protracted conflict.

A delegation from Afghanistan travelled to the UAE, Deputy Spokesman of the Chief Executive Fraidon Khozon told Afghanistan Times.

Officials from the Afghanistan, United States, Pakistan and the UAE held meetings on Sunday ahead of the US-Taliban meeting.

Khozon said the Afghan delegation has held talks with the Taliban, US, Pakistani, Saudi and Emirati representatives in Abu Dhabi. The 12-member delegation is led by the President’s Chief of Staff Abdul Salam Rahimi.

The Taliban and the US have reportedly discussed a temporary ceasefire and the release of militants from the US detention in this round of talks.

This is the second meeting between Taliban and US representatives. The first talks were held in Qatar in mid-November. The dialogue was rudimentary and no consensus was reached.

While Afghan officials are not expected to attend Monday’s meeting, their presence in the UAE is a significant step in efforts to get the two sides talking. So far, the Taliban have refused to hold direct talks with the Afghan government, calling it a puppet of America and insisting only on negotiating with the US.

While the US State Department has neither denied nor confirmed previous meetings with the Taliban, Washington’s special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad previously said he has held several meetings with all Afghans involved in the protracted conflict, a reference that would include the Taliban, who control or hold say in nearly half of Afghanistan.

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