Taliban resume talks in Doha

Clay Curtis
December 8, 2019

Taliban insurgents have continued regular attacks against the US-supported government in Kabul, and American airstrikes killed 37 Taliban on the eve of the new talks, the United States military reported.

While Khalilzad is talking to the Taliban about reducing violence, the U.S. military in its daily report said overnight on Saturday U.S. airstrikes killed 37 Taliban and operations by the Afghan National Security Forces killed another 22 of the militants.

The previous year-long negotiation efforts had seemingly reached a point of signing some sort of agreement that suggested the withdrawal of USA forces after 18 years of war in Afghanistan in exchange for security guarantees from the Taliban* that the country won't become a haven for terrorist organisations.

The Qatari government played host to the U.S. -Taliban dialogue before it was halted by Trump on September 7 in retaliation for an insurgent attack in the Afghan capital, Kabul, that killed an American solider among others.

It was also expected to pave the way toward direct talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government in Kabul and, ultimately, a possible peace agreement after more than 18 years of war.

Donald trump surprisingly called the year-long effort dead and withdrew an invitation to the insurgents to join secret talks at his United States retreat at Camp David.

Trump has expressed frustration with America's longest war repeatedly saying he wants to bring the estimated 12,000 USA soldiers home and calling on Afghanistan's own police and military to step up.

However, he did not disclose where the conversation took place and who is joining it. Khalilzad's visit to Kabul comes a few days after the US President's visit to the US military base in Afghanistan.

The Taliban, which now holds sway over almost half of Afghanistan, has continued to carry out near-daily attacks against military outposts throughout the country.

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Washington had sought to seal a political deal with the Taliban ahead of September's elections in Afghanistan.

He recently organized a captive exchange in which the Taliban released an American and Australian academic who had been held hostage for three years.

The Taliban claim they would have agreed to a ceasefire with foreign troops in areas of foreign troop withdrawal. But they insist on issues related to the cessation of fighting with the Afghan security forces would only be considered when Afghan-Taliban negotiations are launched.

In an interview with Mehr News correspondent, Shaheen said that the Taliban is ready for Khalilzad's return to Qatar to start Peace Talks, adding that they are not willing to negotiate with the Afghan government and accept ceasefire before signing a peace agreement which has been already prepared.

Kahlilzad met separately with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in Kabul on Wednesday.

However, some Afghan analysts urged caution in the negotiations.

No official announcement has been made about the reduction of violence.

"The ceasefire on the part of the Taliban, as some of them have said publicly, reduces their leverage. And therefore, it would not protect our security interest nor will it protect the gains that need to be preserved inside Afghanistan", the general said. "We also emphasized that for any peace to last, terrorist safe havens outside Afghanistan must be dismantled".

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