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US-Taliban to resume peace talks Saturday

Rapid progress on peace expects

AT News Report

KABUL: The United States and the Taliban Qatar-based members sit to open seventh round of negotiations in Doha (Saturday 29th June), in a bid to find a peaceful solution to 18-year conflict in Afghanistan.

In a Twitter post on 22th June, the US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said that “faster progress” is needed in negotiations and that the seventh round of US-Taliban talks will begin on June 29 in Doha. “I believe all sides want rapid progress,” he added.  

In May, Khalizlad wrapped up his sixth round of talks with Taliban negotiation members in Qatar, where some progress was made on a draft agreement that included the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, comprehensive ceasefire, intra-Afghan talks and counter-terrorism assurance.   

But Khalilzad were unhappy with the progress of the talks with the Taliban, as he said that such trend of talks were not sufficient when so much conflict rages and innocent people were dying.

Peace is a priority, and all efforts should be focused on pursing peace, said former advisor to the president Shahzada Masoud. “All the Afghan masses, from leaders to ordinary, have pinned high hope on seventh round of talks between US envoy and Taliban member to be held today (Saturday).”

Rapid progress over peace deal and intra-Afghan talks with inclusion of government side, is expected this time, he said, while the Taliban group repeatedly and again rejected holding direct talks with Afghan government.

Indeed, there is consensus on Afghan peace regionally and globally, he said, but expressed his frustration over weak performances of government to reach a peace deal with the Taliban.

The government must stand ready in terms of delegation if the Taliban node for intra-Afghan talks, he said, referring to fate of the last government delegation, which the Taliban rejected to sit in talks with.

Already, there were twice intra-Afghan talks, both held in Moscow and a number of Afghan influential figures held direct talks with Taliban members, Masoud said.

“We all know what happened when Afghan government released names of participants to carry direct talks with Taliban,” Masoud said, adding delegates who can truly represent Afghanistan should be nominated.

Commenting over upcoming presidential election, Masoud said that Afghan people, and a large number of Afghan influential figures and leaders, including those running for presidential vote, have put peace above election.

Once we have peace, election could be ran smoothly with participations of all Afghans, he said, putting uncertainty in Parliament as visible example of fraudulent election that helped nothing, rather created more headaches.

He also called on regional countries and international community to stand beside Khalilzad and help him in his efforts for peace in Afghanistan.

According to Masoud, failure of the seventh round of talks between the U.S. and the Taliban could lead to deterioration of security situation. “Security situation is fragile at the moment. War has been intensified with taking casualties from Afghan security forces, the Taliban fighters plus civilians. This war needs to be ended.” Masoud said.

The High Peace Council (HPC)—a body responsible for peace, expressed hope over peace statements given by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his surprised visit to Kabul.

Pompeo during his meeting with Afghan leaders, hoped to reach a peace deal with the Taliban insurgents by September, referring to the deal before presidential contest slated for late September.

“Afghans yearn for peace and we share their desire to end of conflict,” Pompeo said on Twitter after his visit to Kabul last week. “Peace would offer Afghans and the wider region a different future, one which we are ready to support.”

Ghafoor Javid, a spokesman for the peace council, a government-funded body responsible for arranging talks between the government and the Taliban, said the seventh round of US-Taliban negotiations were expected to kick off the beginning of intra-Afghan dialogues.

“Direct and official negotiations can resolve the problems sooner and help us reach an agreement,” said Javid. “We hope Taliban’s negotiations with Khalilzad will lead to face to face talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.”

Taliban and Khalilzad have so far negotiated over the US troop withdrawal and that Afghanistan would never be used by international terrorist organizations to threaten US security.

Pompeo said in Kabul that Washington and Taliban had got closer to finalize a draft of counterterrorism. But he said that nothing was finalized because it was impossible to deal over a single issue.

A couple of weeks ago, Khalilzad during an interview with a local T.V. channel, emphasized that intra-Afghan dialogue and ceasefire, in addition to troop withdrawal and counterterrorism were essential parts of the direct talks with the Taliban group. Without agreeing over all parts, no agreement was made over one or two part, he added.

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