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  • U.S. special envoy in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, speaks during a roundtable discussion with Afghan media.

    U.S. special envoy in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, speaks during a roundtable discussion with Afghan media. | Photo: Reuters

Published 28 July 2019

After nearly a year of peace talks with the U.S., the eighth round of negotiations will take place next week in Doha.

The United States special envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, announced Sunday that intra-Afghan negotiations between the government and key players will take place after the U.S. reaches a deal with the Taliban. 

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“To clarify, those negotiations will occur after we conclude our own agreements and they will take place between the Taliban and an inclusive and effective national negotiating team consisting of senior government officials, key political party representatives, civil society and women,” Khalilzad added. 

This comes as Afghanistan's Minister for Peace Affairs, Abdul Salam Rahimi,  said in a video on Saturday that a 15-member government delegation would meet the Taliban within the next two weeks in Europe.

"We are preparing for direct talks. We are working with all sides and hope that in the next two weeks the first meeting will take place in a European country," the Afghan official said in a video message tweeted on Saturday.

Yet a Taliban spokesperson confirmed Khalilzad's comments, telling AFP news agency any new talks would only begin after a deal had been forged with the U.S., as they still won’t “talk to the Kabul administration as a government,” seeing they consider it a U.S. pawn. 

"Intra-Afghan talks will start only after a foreign force withdrawal is announced," said Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban's political office in Qatar.

After nearly a year of peace talks with the U.S., the eighth round of negotiations will take place next week in Doha. The U.S. government has reiterated that it wants to have a final deal by September 1.

The war in Afghanistan is Washington’s longest conflict in its history. It was started after the September 11 attacks in New York City when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan as part of the so-called "war on terror" with the objective to dismantle Al-Qaeda by removing the Taliban from power. 

However, after a short-run removal, the Taliban regrouped between 2003 and 2008, to fight back and retake most of the country. The U.S. government now has found themselves in the position to broker a deal with the Taliban. 

Almost US$975 billion has been spent and approximately 220,000 people have died.

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