Friday, 21 February, 2020

US and Taliban resume talks on ending America's longest war

US and Taliban resume talks on ending America's longest war US and Taliban resume talks on ending America's longest war
Deanna Wagner | 24 August, 2019, 10:59

US military officials say two service members died in Afghanistan.

The United States and the Taliban met in Doha on Thursday, an American source close to the talks said, for potentially decisive dialogue to allow Washington to drawdown militarily in Afghanistan.

The US and the Taliban have been trying to reach a peace agreement that would include the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan and give guarantees that the country is not used as a safe haven for extremists.

"Khalilzad will inform the top Afghan leaders about the peace deal and then finalise a declaration to end the war in Afghanistan", the USA official said on condition of anonymity.

A breakthrough could pave the way for a withdrawal of global troops from Afghanistan, including some 14,000 USA soldiers.

"The recent statement by the US President that some part of the US intelligence will remain in Afghanistan has turned into a matter of discussion for the Taliban and it has raised some concerns".

Taliban spokesmen in Doha, Suhail Shaheen and Zabihullah Mujahid in Afghanistan confirmed that the 9th round of the peace talks with the United States began on Thursday.

Iran war escalates with airstrikes in Iraq
Israel has struck Iranian bases in neighboring Syria on numerous occasions, but it is not known to have done so in Iraq . The most recent of the explosions at PMF positions came Tuesday night, at a munitions depot north of Baghdad.

Before the talks began on Thursday, US Special Representative on Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad had said that Washington was ready to seal a peace deal with the Taliban if the group was ready for it.

He said the U.S. military commander in Afghanistan General Scott Miller also participated in the talks.

"We are negotiating with the government and we are negotiating with the Taliban", he said.

The U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation formally concluded their combat mission in 2014, but American and allied troops remain, conducting strikes on the Islamic State group and the Taliban and working to train and build the Afghan military. Over 32,000 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan in the past 10 years.

About 20,000 foreign troops, majority American, are now in Afghanistan as part of a US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces.

The Taliban has so far refused to speak to the Afghan government, calling a "puppet regime". Some US forces carry out counter-terrorism operations.

Representatives from the Taliban and the United States sat down in Qatar on Thursday for a ninth round of talks to put the final touches on a deal that will enable the withdrawal of USA troops from Afghanistan in return for Taliban security guarantees.