The U.S. and Taliban officials resumed their sixth round of talks in Qatar on Wednesday as the group says it won’t discuss other topics before agreeing over “full withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan and preventing Afghanistan from harming others”.
In October, U.S. and Taliban representatives agreed in a draft on withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan in return for a Taliban guarantee that Afghanistan will not be used by militants to threaten the U.S. and its allies in the world.
In this round, U.S. Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad is expected to focus on an intra-Afghan dialogue and a declaration of a ceasefire.
But the Taliban spokesman said in a statement that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar the co-founder of the group and Head of the Taliban’s Political Office in Qatar has met with Ambassador Khalilzad and Indonesian Foreign Minister in Qatar where they have discussed the Afghan peace process.
The statement added that without finalizing the “full withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan” and preventing Afghanistan from harming others, the group “cannot enter into other topics”.
Omid Maysam, a spokesman for the Office of Afghanistan’s Chief Executive said on Wednesday that the Afghan government hopes this round of talks pave the way for the beginning of direct talks between the government and the Taliban and end of the ongoing war in the country.
Sayed Akbar Agha, a former Taliban official told Ariana News that the U.S. and Taliban may agree on the timeline of foreign forces withdrawal from Afghanistan on this round of talks.
“In this round of talks, the timetable of the withdrawal of the foreign forces will be finalized. Both sides have discussed with their people and there are a lot of hopes that the external aspect of Afghanistan issue will be resolved and intra-Afghan dialogue will begin,” Agha said.
Meanwhile, Mohammad Omar Daudzai, Ghani’s Special Envoy for Peace welcomed the sixth round of U.S.-Taliban talks and said the government is optimistic about it.
This comes as the U.S. government has not commented regarding the latest round of U.S.-Taliban talks.