7th round of talks between US & Taliban negotiators begins

By: Lailuma Noori

7th round of peace talks between US delegation led by Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban negotiators kicked off the other day in Doha, capital city of Qatar.
It is expected that this round of talks focuses on timetable for US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and Taliban guarantees to prevent Afghanistan from again, hosting militants who can stage global attacks.
US peace efforts have been underway through direct talks with the Taliban group, meeting with leaders of Afghanistan and neighboring countries, western and regional powers for the past nine months.
Previously, US special peace envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad had said they would reach no agreements until everything was agreed individually. So far, US delegation led by Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban negotiators have held six meetings focusing mainly on timeline for US troop withdrawal and Taliban guarantees to prevent Afghanistan from again hosting militants and terrorist groups.
On sixth round of talks between the two sides, either side declared that they have reached progress. The first direct talks of the Taliban group were with US deputy secretary of state on South and Central Asian affairs.
Efforts for peace in Afghanistan have increased recently. In the meantime, presidential elections are determined to be held on its exact time.
The fresh round of talks comes amid the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit to Kabul who said he hopes that there will be a peace deal ahead of the presidential elections in Afghanistan – scheduled for September 28.
Currently, there are nearly 15,000 foreign forces mostly US military forces in Afghanistan who are engaged in training and advising the country’s national defense and security forces.
Meanwhile, a part of US forces are helping ANDSF in war on terror.
A number of officials of Afghanistan government scare of possible agreement between US delegation and Taliban negotiators in connection with US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, which can put negative impact on war on terror in Afghanistan.
Taliban regime was toppled as a result of US and its allies’ attacks in 2001, but the group, fighting against US troops and Afghanistan government, is not supporting the election process in the country.
According to the reports, Taliban is interested in formation of an interim government in Afghanistan, but President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, leaders of the opposition group and political parties have rejected this demand of the Taliban group that has always rejected to hold direct talks with Afghanistan government.
President Ghani hoped that the 7th round of talks between US delegation led by Zalmay Khalilzad and Taliban negotiators would open door for intra-Afghan dialogue.
Peace in Afghanistan can be maintained through an inclusive process led and owned by Afghans as the process can address all dimensions of the ongoing war and violence in the country. Nevertheless, the process will face challenges without close cooperation of regional and international partners.
Therefore, close cooperation and coordination of countries that are somehow involved in Afghanistan dispute are necessary for the process.

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