News ID: 236060
Published: 0555 GMT December 18, 2018

Afghanistan sends team to join US-Taliban talks in Abu Dhabi

Afghanistan sends team to join US-Taliban talks in Abu Dhabi

A peace negotiations team of the Kabul government has arrived in Abu Dhabi, a day after representatives of the Taliban and Washington held talks in order to end a 17-year war in Afghanistan.

The Afghan presidential spokesman Haroon Chakhansuri said in a post on Twitter on Tuesday that the team "arrived in Abu Dhabi to begin proximity dialogue with the Taliban delegation and to prepare for a face-to-face meeting between the two sides."

In a new message released Tuesday the Taliban also confirmed they had held "preliminary talks" with the US State Department's special envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, on Monday.

Washington said meetings were ongoing in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, "to promote an intra-Afghan dialogue toward ending the conflict."

Khalilzad "has in the past met, and will continue to meet with all interested parties, including the Taliban, to support a negotiated settlement to the conflict," it said, Presstv Reported.

Taliban issued a statement on Monday reiterating that they had also held "extensive" meetings with officials from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, repeating demands for international forces to be withdrawn from Afghanistan. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Pakistan were the only three countries to recognize the Taliban rule during its five-year rule from 1996-2001.

The meetings are the latest in a flurry of diplomatic efforts as Washington seeks a way out of the long-drawn war.

The head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, during a recent briefing to the UN Security Council in New York voiced optimistic about the possibility of talks. "The possibility of a negotiated end to the conflict has never been more real in the past 17 years than it is now".

In November, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani announced the formation of a team for prospective peace talks with the Taliban. At an international conference on Afghanistan in Geneva, Ghani said the 12-person negotiating team includes both men and women and will be led by Abdul Salam Rahimi, his chief of staff.

The Kabul government has stepped up efforts to convince the Taliban to end the 17-year militancy amid Washington’s failures on the battleground.

Contacts have already started between US special envoy Khalilzad and Taliban representatives to build a favorable position in advance of any talks. 

At the request of the US, a Taliban office was established in Doha in 2013 to facilitate peace talks. In recent months, Taliban representatives and Khalilzad have discussed their conditions to end the war in Afghanistan.

US forces have been bogged down in Afghanistan through the presidencies of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and now Donald Trump, with militants now launching attacks on both Pakistan and Afghanistan.

   
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