Taliban say gap narrowing in talks with US over Afghanistan troop withdrawal - Lebanon news - أخبار لبنان

Taliban say gap narrowing in talks with US over Afghanistan troop withdrawal

Taliban say gap narrowing in talks with US over Afghanistan troop withdrawal

ISLAMABAD — The Taliban on Saturday said the gap is narrowing in talks with Washington’s special peace envoy over a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. The two sides are continuing to meet in Qatar, where the insurgent movement maintains a political office.

In a voice message to The Associated Press, the Taliban spokesman in Doha, Suhail Shaheen, said both sides have offered new proposals for drawing down U.S. and NATO forces. This would be a significant initial step toward a deal to end nearly 18 years of war and America’s longest military engagement.

“There are proposals to lower the gap between the two sides, but (it) still needs negotiation to reach a final agreement,” he said in an English language statement.

Other Taliban officials familiar with the negotiations had earlier told AP that the U.S. was seeking a year and a half to withdraw its estimated 14,000 troops from Afghanistan, while the Taliban wanted it done in six months. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

It remains unknown what new proposals either side has brought to the table.

Talks between the U.S. and Taliban, which began last year with the appointment of Washington’s peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, have focused on a timetable for a U.S. withdrawal as well as Taliban guarantees that Afghanistan will not be used as a staging arena for global terrorist attacks. The U.S. also wants guarantees that the Taliban won’t harbor terrorists and that the insurgent group will help in the fight against an Islamic State affiliate that has taken root mostly in eastern Afghanistan.

The Taliban have publicly assailed the IS affiliate, known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, and have waged bitter battles against the group’s followers, most often in eastern Nangarhar province but also in the north of Afghanistan, where an IS affiliate, known as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, has recruited more Afghan followers to IS.

Sign up for the Early Bird Brief Get the military’s most comprehensive news and information every morning

Subscribe

Enter a valid email address (please select a country) United States United Kingdom Afghanistan Albania Algeria American Samoa Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, The Democratic Republic of The Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote D’ivoire Croatia Cuba Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guam Guatemala Guinea Guinea-bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and Mcdonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hong Kong Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Marshall Islands Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Micronesia, Federated States of Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands Netherlands Antilles New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Northern Mariana Islands Norway Oman Pakistan Palau Palestinian Territory, Occupied Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Puerto Rico Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Helena Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and The Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia and Montenegro Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and The South Sandwich Islands Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan, Province of China Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States United States Minor Outlying Islands Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela Viet Nam Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, U.S. Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe

Thanks for signing up!

×

By giving us your email, you are opting in to the Early Bird Brief.

In a tweet at the outset of the latest round of talks with the Taliban earlier this week, Khalilzad said the U.S. and the Taliban need to find common ground. He laid out four “inter-connected issues: troop withdrawal, counter-terrorism assurances, intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations and reduction in violence leading to a comprehensive cease fire.”

Until they do, Khalilzad said “nothing will be final.”

US Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad participates in a discussion on “The Prospects for Peace in Afghanistan” at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington on Feb. 8, 2019 (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

Still the Taliban refuse to stop fighting until U.S. and NATO troops withdraw. The Taliban continue to attack Afghanistan’s beleaguered military, causing staggering casualties.

The Taliban officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the group has concerns about a cease-fire: Taliban commanders in the field are unlikely to accept a cease-fire while foreign troops are still in Afghanistan, and once a cease-fire is declared it would be difficult to re-start the fighting if the U.S. reneges on its deal.

An intra-Afghan dialogue that was to be held in Doha last month collapsed after both sides failed to agree on participants. Earlier this week, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani held a Loya Jirga or grand council of about 3,200 Afghans that included tribal elders, activists, prominent Afghans and others.

The council was to draft a position for talks with the Taliban, but several prominent politicians were no-shows, including his partner in the Unity Government, Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, exposing the deepening rifts in the government.

Khalilzad has urged both sides to find a middle ground to start talks in Doha.

leave a reply

*

code