Published: Sun, July 07, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Intra-Afghan dialogue - end of war more likely than ever

Intra-Afghan dialogue - end of war more likely than ever

The U.S. -Taliban peace talks come as an intra-Afghan dialogue in Doha, hosted jointly by the Qatari and German governments, is scheduled for July 7-8.

"They [U.S.] have perhaps evolved a troop withdrawal timetable".

Since then Khalilzad has held scores of talks with the Afghan government in Kabul and overseas, with the Taliban as well as with Afghanistan's neighbors - including Pakistan which has been accused of aiding the insurgents.

The United States, which by some estimates has spent Dollars 1 trillion in Afghanistan, will likely try to insist in the deal that the Taliban open negotiations with Ghani's government.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani insists that no agreement to end the 18-year-long conflict in his country could be reached without his government's active involvement.

More than 2,400 US service personnel have died in Afghanistan since the coalition invaded to oust the Taliban and hunt down al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

But the Taliban demands a timeline for the USA troops' withdrawal from Afghanistan before agreeing to a ceasefire.

"I think there is a strong possibility that there could be an agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban even sooner than September, but an agreement that is just between the USA and the Taliban is not a peace agreement for Afghanistan", said Laurel Miller, who served as the United States special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan under both Trump and his predecessor Barack Obama.

The insurgents have been meeting with the USA envoy in Doha to hammer out a deal that would see the USA military quit Afghanistan in return for various guarantees.

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Laurel Miller, the USA special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan until 2017, said there was "strong possibility" of reaching a deal before September.

Observers have criticised the United States for allowing its own talks with the Taliban to proceed without the formal participation of the Afghan government, which the Taliban label Washington's puppet.

On Saturday, several prominent Afghan figures left Kabul for Doha ahead of much-anticipated all-Afghan talks to begin on Sunday.

In Doha, any Afghan officials will participate in "personal capacity and on equal footing" with the Taliban, according to Germany, which organized the meeting alongside Qatar.

An earlier round of intra-Afghan talks, which were to be held last April, were scuttled after the two sides could not agree on participants.

The first encounter was an historic breakthrough and saw the Taliban hear the opinions of the two women attendees before laying out their constitutional and political programme on live TV for the first time. The Afghan government had submitted a list of 250 people.

Attaullah Rahman Salim, the deputy head of the government's high peace council, said 64 would be sitting around the table.

Khalilzad also said that agreeing to resolve political differences without force is what is needed to learn from the tragedy of the last 40 years.

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