US diplomats and the Taliban will hold a meeting sponsored by Pakistan to talk about ways to end the war in Afghanistan.
The Afghan government did not confirm their participation in the U.S.-led talks; however, the Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdulla Mohib met with representatives of the United States, the UAE, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia to discuss President Ashraf Ghani’s roadmap for peace. This includes allowing the Taliban to take part in politics and run for office.
Prior to the meeting, Mohib promoted the Afghan government’s handling of peace negotiations, “direct engagement of the Afghan government with the Taliban for an intra-Afghan dialogue.”
The Taliban is unwilling to hold direct talks with the Afghan government which it alleges to be a U.S. puppet that is inefficient and racked by internal divisions, according to the Guardian.
One of the salient points in the meeting was the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and to “end the oppression exerted by the United States and their allies,” along with a possible peace and reconstruction process, according to El Diario.
The Afghan government is involved in the coordination of the meeting between the United States and the Taliban, according to Shah Hussain Murtzawi, a spokesman for Ghani.
Presidential elections are coming up in Afghanistan. The U.S. diplomatic mission and the State Department issued contradictory statements on how the elections should be handled.
The U.S. envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad suggested an interim government should be formed so that the 2019 presidential elections could be postponed to allow the peace process to be consolidated and to ensure the participation of the Taliban.
Yet, the U.S. State Department denies that the envoy is promoting this course of action, “The timing of Afghan elections is for the Afghans alone to decide,” Heidi Hattenbach, the Department’s spokesperson, said.
Ghani, who is expected to run for re-election, rejects any move to delay elections.
Meetings between the U.S. envoy and the Taliban have been held in three previous occasions in Qatar. Khalilzad also went to Islamabad to ask for Pakistan’s support in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table with the Afghan government. As a result of these talks, the President of Pakistan offered to sponsor the UAE U.S.-Taliban meeting.
For his part, President Donald Trump has accused Pakistan of absorbing money while sitting idly by during the war in Afghanistan. Pakistan's President Imran Khan’s response was that he felt his country had been drawn into the so-called “war on terror” conducted by the United States in Afghanistan.