US and Taliban Seek Peace at Doha Talks

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban group’s top political leader, second from left, arrives with other members of the Taliban delegation for talks in Moscow, Russia, on May 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

DOHA, Qatar (AFP) – U.S. and Taliban representatives held negotiations in Doha on Sunday, an American source close to the process said, as potentially decisive talks to enable Washington to draw down its military in Afghanistan stretched into the evening.

“Talks resumed late morning today,” the U.S. source said.

The third day of the two sides’ ninth round of dialogue, which continued until after 3:00 p.m. EST an AFP correspondent said, was described as promising by a Taliban source.

The insurgent group had earlier said that it was finalizing technical points of an agreement with Washington at the talks being held in a luxury members’ club in the Qatari capital Doha.

“The agreement will be completed after we agree on these points,” Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen told AFP on Saturday.

Any deal would be announced before the media as well as representatives from neighboring countries and China, Russia and the United Nations, he added.

The United States, which invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban from power in 2001 after the September 11 attacks, wants to withdraw thousands of troops but only in return for the group renouncing Al-Qaeda and curbing attacks.

Washington is hoping to strike an agreement with the Taliban by Sept. 1 – ahead of Afghan polls due the same month, and U.S. presidential polls next year.

The Doha talks are being held against a backdrop of persistent violence in Afghanistan.

The Taliban claimed on Saturday to have killed seven members of the U.S. military in an attack on a convoy near Bagram airfield north of Kabul. American officials dismissed the claims as “lies.”

On Wednesday, two U.S. soldiers were killed by small arms fire in Faryab province in northern Afghanistan, the Pentagon said.

Shaheen, the Taliban spokesman, had said the deaths should have a “positive” impact on the talks in Doha.

© Agence France-Presse

%d bloggers like this: