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Disagreement over ceasefire, troops withdrawal prolonging US-Taliban talks


ANI Asia
Disagreement between the Taliban and the United States on issues regarding a permanent ceasefire and the modalities of American forces' withdrawal from Afghanistan is prolonging the ninth round of peace negotiations in Doha, sources familiar with the process said on Thursday.
The ninth round of talks between the two sides aimed at achieving peace after more than a decade-long turmoil in the war-torn country reached the fifth consecutive day today with most of the details remaining behind the closed doors, Tolo News reported.
The political leadership in Kabul is impatiently waiting to see what comes out of months of negotiations between the two sides amid uncertainty whether the upcoming presidential election in Afghanistan would take place on time.
The talks were initially expected to be wrapped up on Tuesday, but a Taliban spokesman in the Qatari capital, Suhail Shaheen, who is also part of the peace process, had said in a tweet that the negotiations will end by Thursday.
"The main issue is around a ceasefire. The Americans insist that the Taliban should agree on a permanent ceasefire after sealing an agreement with the US. But the Taliban argue that if they announce a ceasefire, [President] Ashraf Ghani will hold the election. The Taliban want the [presidential] election to be delayed and instead, an interim government should be formed and then they will announce a ceasefire with the interim government," said Saleh Registani, an expert familiar with the talks.
Meanwhile, sources close to the matter further informed Tolo News that US special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad will travel to Kabul to brief the Afghan politicians and leaders on the outcome of the talks with the Taliban.
"At first, it was agreed that an agreement will be signed between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and the US government, but now it looks that the US wants to deal with the Taliban movement instead of an Islamic emirate," said Faiz Mohammad Zaland, an analyst familiar with the talks, was quoted as saying.
According to sources, the text of the draft agreement has been finalized in Dari, Pashto, and English. However, no final decision has been made that which one will be used as the main text.
Mawlawi Qalamuddin, a former Taliban member who lives in Kabul, expressed his scepticism on the agreement, saying the situation is more complex than it seems.
"Who guarantees that Afghanistan will remain a non-conflict zone? Who guarantees that interference here [in Afghanistan] will be stopped so that we come out of the war. This is a very important issue. It cannot be addressed in one or two months; it can take one year or two years to sort it out," Qalamuddin told Tolo News.
However, US President Donald Trump has reportedly said that Washington will keep more than 8,000 troops in Afghanistan even after a peace agreement is successfully signed with the Taliban.

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First Published: Aug 29 2019 | 10:43 PM IST

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