Published: Sun, December 08, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

USA restarts Afghanistan peace talks with Taliban in Qatar

USA restarts Afghanistan peace talks with Taliban in Qatar

After three months of halt, the talks between Washington and Taliban in Qatar resumed on Saturday, a source told AFP.

The Taliban and the United States restarted their formal peace negotiations on Saturday, the first such initiative of its kind since President Donald Trump's decision to call off the talks in early September, an American official privy to the developments said.

The broadcaster said Saturday that Ghani turned to an extra player in the US-Taliban match.

Trump, the third USA commander in chief to preside over America's longest war since a US -led coalition ousted the Taliban leadership following the 9/11 attacks on the United States, has expressed a desire to withdraw the estimated 12,000 US troops from Afghanistan.

The Afghan Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid tweeted that the peace talks will continue for a second day, tomorrow (Sunday).

The renewed talks were expected to pave the way for direct talks between the Taliban and the government in Kabul and, ultimately, a possible peace agreement after more than 18 years of war.

The Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) commented on President Ghani's last week meeting with his American counterpart Donald Trump at a USA air base in the Bagram district, saying the event meant flattery to Americans.

The Taliban, who now dominate nearly half of Afghanistan, have continued to carry out daily attacks against military posts throughout the country.

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The Taliban delegates on December 7 reportedly included Anas Haqqani, who was among three senior Taliban freed in a prisoner swap last month for an American and an Australian professor who had been kidnapped and held by the Taliban for three years. Under the deal envisaged at that time, the United States was to substantially reduce the troop size in Afghanistan.

Rejecting the possibility of Taliban's cooperation with the future Afghan government resulting from this election, he said that If the Taliban is to recognize the future Afghanistan government, then what is the insistence on war, and there will be no need for resistance.

The Taliban says its fighters also would have observed a cease-fire with foreign troops in areas of troop withdrawal.

Kahlilzad met separately with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul on Wednesday. However, the Taliban insist matters related to cessation of hostilities with Afghan security forces would only be on the agenda when Taliban-Afghan negotiations are launched.

However, some Afghan analysts urged caution in the negotiations. Speaking on Friday at a luncheon hosted by the Meridian International Centre, a nonpartisan, public diplomacy organization in Washington, former U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces commander Gen. John Nicholson, cautioned against making any agreements with the Taliban that does not bind the group to a nationwide ceasefire or a reduction in the level of violence.

"The ceasefire on the part of the Taliban, as some of them have said publicly, reduces their leverage".

"To simply negotiate a deal that allows for the withdrawal of worldwide forces and some sort of renunciation of terrorism, in my view, will not last".

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