News ID: 252185
Published: 0145 GMT May 01, 2019

US, Taliban resume talks as Afghan government seeks role in peace process

US, Taliban resume talks as Afghan government seeks role in peace process
AP

American and Taliban officials resumed talks in Qatar to end a 17-year war in Afghanistan on Wednesday while the Afghan government hosted a rare assembly in Kabul to ensure its interests are upheld in any peace deal.

Afghan representatives were not allowed to attend the sixth round of US-Taliban talks in the Qatari capital, Doha, said Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the militant group, Reuters reported.

"There will be no other side except the US and Taliban representatives in the meeting, but some Qatari officials will remain present as hosts," he said.

The talks are part of President Donald Trump's efforts to end America's longest war, which began when US-backed forces ousted the Taliban weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.

Since October, US and Taliban officials have held several rounds of talks aimed at ensuring a safe exit for US forces in return for a Taliban guarantee that Afghanistan will not be used by militants to threaten the rest of the world.

In this round, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, and his delegation are expected to focus on a declaration of a ceasefire as a first step to end the fighting, said a western diplomat in Kabul.

An official working closely with Khalilzad said he is expected to encourage the insurgent group to engage in Afghan-to-Afghan talks to find a political settlement to end the war.

This week, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani convened a rare grand assembly known as the Loya Jirga to set out Kabul's conditions for peace talks with the Taliban.

The Jirga has a purely consultative function, but it carries significance in Afghan politics and society.

The Taliban has so far refused to talk to Kabul.

Ghani believes that backing from members of the Loya Jirga will strengthen his bid to be recognized as Afghanistan's legitimate representative in the peace talks.

The assembly includes 3,200 tribal elders, politicians and community and religious leaders from all 34 provinces.

Omar Daudzai, Ghani's special envoy for peace, said at the assembly he welcomed the US-Taliban talks in Qatar but Afghan voices should be heard at the negotiating table.

The United States has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan as part of a NATO-led mission.

 

   
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