The peace negotiations between the United States and the Afghan Taliban in Doha continues in it’s second day, aiming to fold the page of the longest war in its history continues, as the United States and the Taliban are seeking a deal to end an 18 years conflict in Afghanistan.
On the second day of negotiations on Saturday at the Qatari Capital, Doha.
The United States, which invaded Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban from power in 2001, plans to withdraw thousands of troops deployed in the country and turn the page of the longest war in its history.
But it first seeks assurances from insurgents that they have no connection to Al Qaeda and that other fighters, such as those belonging to the Islamic state, are prevented from using the country as a sanctuary.
The eighth round of talks began on Saturday and was not announced.
A source in the Taliban told AFP that efforts were made to organize a direct meeting between the US envoy and Mullah Barader, the political leader of the movement.
The two men met in May.
A US-led coalition ousted the Taliban from power in late 2001 after accusing it of sheltering Al Qaeda-linked jihadists who had adopted the September 11 attacks in the United States that killed some 3,000 people.
The United States hopes to reach a peace agreement with the Taliban on September 1, ahead of the upcoming Afghan elections in the same month and the US presidential election in 2020.
“We’ve made a lot of progress”, US President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday.
We’re in talks”.
“We aim to reach a peace agreement, not a withdrawal agreement, a peace agreement that allows withdrawal”, US envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad wrote on his arrival in Doha on Friday.
“Our presence in Afghanistan is subject to conditions and any withdrawal will be subject to conditions”, Khalilzad said after meeting Pakistani Prime Minister Amran Khan in Islamabad.
In an additional sign of progress, the Afghan government has formed a negotiating team for separate peace talks with the Taliban and diplomats hope it will be held this month.
The Washington Post reported on Thursday that the proposed deal would reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan to 8,000 to 14,000 currently.
Washington, on the other hand, asks the Taliban to abide by a ceasefire, renounce Al Qaeda and hold talks with the Kabul government.
“After 19 years, President Trump was very clear about his desire to develop a diplomatic solution that would allow us to reduce resources there”, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday during a visit to Sydney.
“At the same time, make sure that Afghanistan never becomes a platform again Including a terrorist to strike the United States”.
An Afghan official suggested last week that the government of President Ashraf Ghani was preparing for direct talks with the Taliban, but details were not yet announced.
“We’ve no preconditions for the start of the talks, but the peace agreement is not without conditions”, Ghani wrote on Facebook before negotiations.
“We want a republic not an emirate”, he said, while the Taliban want to re-establish a similar Islamic emirate established in 1996.
“The negotiations will be difficult, the (Taliban) insurgents should know that there is no less Afghan than them in terms of religion or courage”.
Several issues remain unresolved, including the potential sharing of power, the future of a rich government and the role of regional powers in the Afghan conflict, including India and Pakistan.
The eighth round of negotiations between the Taliban and the United States comes after talks last month between government representatives in their “personal capacity” and the Taliban, during which they agreed on a “road map for peace” but didn’t reach a ceasefire.