US, Taliban to brief leaders on 8th round of talks

By: The Kabul Times

KABUL: The US and the Taliban negotiators on Sunday wrapped up the eighth round of talks in Doha which are amid at reaching a potential peace deal that will help reduce violence in Afghanistan, facilitate intra-Afghan talks and a ceasefire between the warring sides. 
The talks are also aimed at ending the 18 years of conflict which has taken thousands of lives from the Afghan civilian population and military personnel.
US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said on Twitter on Monday that he has concluded the talks which began on August 3 and that they were productive.  He said he is returning to Washington D.C. for consultations on next steps in the peace process. 
Khalilzad said that the US is “working hard toward a lasting and honorable peace agreement and a sovereign Afghanistan which poses no threat to any other country”.
-A Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said in a tweet that negotiators from the two sides are now reaching their leaders to consult about the details of the topics which came under discussion in the recent talks between the US Special Representative and the Taliban delegation.
Since his appointment to the post last September, Khalilzad conducted eight round of talks with the Taliban in Doha and UAE, but these talks in some stage followed strong reactions from President Ashraf Ghani whose administration has been out of the negotiations as the Taliban is refusing to attend meetings with Kabul officials.
On Sunday, President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani after Eid prayers at the Presidential Palace assured that peace is coming to the country and said there is no doubt in it. “Peace is the demand of every Afghan and there is no doubt that peace is coming. Peace with the dignity of every Afghan,” Ghani said.
Despite Khalilzad’s assurances that he has been briefing the Afghan government about the details of his meetings with the Taliban, there are skepticisms among the Afghan people and political leaders about the nature of the talks.
Last month, the Afghan government in a statement announced the formation of a 15-member negotiating tea after holding a series of discussions and consultations with all stakeholders in the process inside and outside the country.
In a reciprocal move to the Taliban, the Afghan government on Monday announced the release of at least 35 Taliban inmates from the custody of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), two days after the militant group claimed that it has released 76 members of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. 
However, the spokesman of the Ministry of Interior, Nusrat Rahimi, rejected the Taliban statement and said no inmate has been released by the group. Those released from the government’s custody said the violence and bloodshed in the country must end. 
“We saw nothing except for war and bloodshed,” said Shamsuddin Arabzada, a freed detainee. “Peace and renovation should come and there should be brotherhood,” said Fazel Rahman Jalali, a freed detainee.

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