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  • The Taliban have repeatedly rejected the offer to hold direct talks with President Ghani’s government.

    The Taliban have repeatedly rejected the offer to hold direct talks with President Ghani’s government. | Photo: Reuters

Published 12 August 2019

The two sides have been discussing an agreement for almost a year, in which U.S. forces would withdraw from Afghanistan.

The latest round of talks between the Taliban and the United States ended early Monday in Doha without a peace deal for war-torn Afghanistan, as both sides said they would consult with their leaderships on the next steps. 

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U.S. envoy for Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, said the eighth round of talks that began on Aug. 3 in Qatar was “productive” and that he was heading to Washington for consultations. While Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid called the discussions “long and useful,” yet no sign of a peace accord was shared by the two parties. 

The two sides have been discussing an agreement for almost a year, in which U.S. forces would withdraw from Afghanistan and the Taliban would guarantee the country would not revert to being a hub for “global terrorism.”

In all this, the Afghan government, led by Ashraf Ghani, has been sidelined, as Khalilzad announced on July 28 that intra-Afghan negotiations between the government and key players will take place after the U.S. reaches a deal with the Taliban.

“Our future cannot be decided outside, whether in the capital cities of our friends, nemeses or neighbors. The fate of Afghanistan will be decided here in this homeland,” he said. “We don’t want anyone to intervene in our affairs,” Ghani said rejecting the current situation.

The head of state insists that elections planned for Sept. 28 will give the next government a powerful mandate to decide the country’s future. But the U.S. is seeking a peace deal by Sept. 1, weeks before the vote.

The Taliban, who retook control of half the country, dismiss the elections as a sham and warned Afghans to avoid both campaign rallies and the polls, as they won’t “talk to the Kabul administration as a government,” seeing they consider it a U.S. pawn. 

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" 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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