Afghanistan: US agrees to discuss troop pullout, Taliban officials say

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KABUL (TCA) — Reports coming after an October 12 meeting in Doha, Qatar between US diplomats and top Afghan Taliban officials suggest that Washington has agreed to discuss bringing its troops home and end America’s 17-year war in Afghanistan, Russia’s Sputnik news agency reported.

During last Friday’s preliminary talks, US special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad discussed with the Taliban conditions to bring about the end of the US’s 17-year war in Afghanistan, according to two Taliban officials speaking on condition of anonymity, as reported by Al Jazeera.

“Six US delegates arrived in Doha to have a meeting with our [Taliban] leaders [and] agreed to discuss all issues, including the pullout of foreign troops,” an unnamed Afghan Taliban official stated.

“But it was a preliminary meeting and all issues were discussed in general, not in detail,” the anonymous Taliban official asserted, adding that additional talks are expected in upcoming months, Al Jazeera reported.

A statement sent to journalists on October 13 by Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Khalilzad met Taliban representatives on October 12 in Qatar’s capital, Doha, to discuss ending the Afghan conflict, RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan reported.

Mujahid said the Taliban representatives told Khalilzad that the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan was a “big obstacle” to peace and that both sides “agreed to continue such meetings.”

Another senior Taliban member said the U.S. envoy had asked the Taliban leadership to declare a cease-fire in Afghanistan for six months, in time for the planned October 20 parliamentary elections.

Khalilzad was appointed in September as President Donald Trump’s special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation as part of renewed efforts to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.

Taliban demands for a peaceful resolution of almost two decades of conflict in Afghanistan include the complete pullout of all American military personnel, including contract mercenaries, as well as the lifting of sanctions against its leaders, freedom for imprisoned Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, and the creation and recognition of its official political party.

Sergey Kwan

TCA