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US, Taliban Reportedly Agree On Some Issues As Talks Continue

The discussions have reportedly focused on issues including a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces and a ceasefire.

The US and the Taliban have reportedly inched closer towards sealing an agreement on some key issues, sources familiar with the Qatar talks said.

This comes after the US and Taliban talks continued for the fourth day Thursday, despite having been scheduled for only two days.

The discussions have reportedly focused on issues including a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces and a ceasefire.

Close sources to the Taliban have also said that the Taliban will not allow any group to stage attacks against other nations from Afghan territory.

Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal said in a report the withdrawal of some or all of the approximately 14,000 US forces from Afghanistan are under discussion – which is a move the Taliban has been pushing for since the start of the talks with the US, that were initiated last year.

Taliban have also agreed to keep al-Qaeda and Daesh militant groups away from Afghanistan, sources claimed.

“These all things that give us the green light that a prospect for peace is close and that peace will be restored in Afghanistan and a change has come in the policies of neighboring countries who were supporting the Taliban,” said Musa Khan Akbarzada, former governor of Ghazni.

According to sources, based on a potential agreement, Washington will announce a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan and that the Taliban will also provide a guarantee that the group will not pose a threat to any foreign country.

“The topic upon which the Taliban insisted was a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan. It is said that an agreement has been reached about this issue.

“The second issue which was discussed in the talks was the guarantee that Afghanistan will not become a safe haven to groups that are against the US and the West, and who are creating problems for other countries; the Taliban had detailed talks about this issue and they (Taliban) said that such a thing will not happen,” said political analyst Wahid Muzhdah.

Sources have said that the two sides have also talked about a ceasefire, the release of Taliban prisoners, and the removal of Taliban members from the blacklist. But it has been agreed that these demands and other related issues including the status of the future government in Afghanistan should be discussed during direct talks with the Afghan government.

In addition, sources close to the Taliban told TOLOnews that talks between the US and Taliban continued for the 4th day on Thursday.

“Any draft or agreement which are approved during such talks shouldn’t be seen as a peace agreement. It means that a peace agreement should be sealed between the main parties which are the Afghan government and the Taliban,” said Assadullah Zaeeri, deputy spokesman for the Afghanistan High Peace Council (HPC).

Sources close to the Taliban also said that the Taliban have set a timeline for the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan as a precondition for direct talks with the Afghan government.

Sources also said that the two sides will issue a joint statement about the outcome of the talks.

In the meantime, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah has said that the United States has assured Afghanistan’s government that any US troop pullout would not affect the combat abilities of remaining forces.

“The presence will not come to an end - only if there is peace in Afghanistan,” Abdullah said. “So those details which came out later on kept us assured to some extent.”

US President Donald Trump has been impatient for progress in ending the 17-year war in Afghanistan, where more than 2,400 US forces have died.

The United States sent troops to Afghanistan after the al Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, and overthrew its Taliban rulers, who had hosted Osama bin Laden’s organization.

[Source: By Karim Amini, Tolo News, Kabul, 25Jan19]

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