Published: Mon, February 11, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Peace deal with Taliban likely by July

Peace deal with Taliban likely by July

Pakistan, long at odds with the United States over the war in Afghanistan, has begun to play a behind-the-scenes but central role in supporting US peace talks with the Afghan Taliban, including by facilitating travel to negotiations, USA officials and Taliban sources say.

A former USA ambassador to Afghanistan who is now special envoy in the talks, Khalilzad has, in recent months, held meetings with Taliban officials in Qatar, where the group's senior leaders have an office in the capital Doha.

"Afghans must sit across the table with each other and come to an agreement about the future of their country", Khalilzad said.

"There is an election, I know, that makes reaching a peace agreement particularly complicated".

In the statement, Juncker underlined that the withdrawal agreement represents a carefully balanced compromise between the European Union and Britain, in which both sides have made significant concessions to arrive at a deal.

Zamir Kabulov, the Russian presidential envoy on Afghanistan, told the RIA Novosti news agency Thursday that Russia is willing to help talks between the USA and the Taliban on the withdrawal of US troops but expressed doubt that the US would pull out all of its troops.

Elections in Afghanistan had originally been slated for April 20 but were postponed for three months as peace talks progressed.

Last month, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said 45,000 members of the security forces had died since he took office in 2014 - a much higher total than his government had previously acknowledged.

"It will be better for Afghanistan if we could get a peace agreement before the election, which is scheduled in July", Mr Khalilzad said, adding that there remained "a lot of work" to do.

This comes as the Taliban group has so far rejected to meet or hold talks with the Afghan government officials.

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Köchling added: "The truth is that drinking too much of any alcoholic drink is likely to result in a hangover". One group drank around two and a half pints of lager, followed by four large glasses of white wine .

Pakistan, he said, favours inter-Afghan dialogue including between the Taliban and the government.

Additionally, the Taliban have promised not to provide shelter again to foreign extremists, but experts say they can not be trusted and even now are helping to hide foreign militants.

"Our vision long term is for an Afghanistan that's entirely sovereign, independent".

Former president Karzai during and his successor Ashraf Ghani had mentioned Baradar would be a force for peace and Pakistan had tried to facilitate talks between the Taliban and the United States by releasing him, he added.

"That is a red line, and I think that's a policy of the (US) president as well".

Late last month, 38 civilians and several Afghan soldiers were freed by the army from a Taliban detention center in southern Helmand province.

The Taliban told him they realise Afghanistan is different from when they were ousted in 2001 - when the hardline Islamists subjugated women, barred girls from school and wiped out any number of freedoms.

The US can not be a substitute for decisions that they must make. He added that more talks are planned to "flesh out" the Taliban's commitments.

The Times said the Taliban had complained about the increase in airstrikes and raids.

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