Kabul team in Doha as Taliban accused of stalling dialogue

Published January 6, 2021
KABUL: US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad (second right) holds talks with Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation (right), on Tuesday.—Reuters
KABUL: US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad (second right) holds talks with Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of Afghanistan’s High Council for National Reconciliation (right), on Tuesday.—Reuters

DOHA: Afghan government negotiators returned to Doha on Tuesday for a second round of talks with the Taliban after Kabul accused the insurgents of stalling the negotiations.

Months of deliberations between the two sides have yielded little so far, although both sides agreeing what to discuss in the next round was viewed as a breakthrough.

“We are here in Doha and arrived two hours ago,” said a spokeswoman for a group of Afghan government negotiators who flew from Kabul to Doha.

It was unclear when the talks would resume.

Afghan government negotiators will push for a permanent ceasefire and to protect existing governance arrangements, in place since the ouster of the Taliban in 2001 by a US-led invasion following the September 11 attacks.

It’s unclear when the negotiations will resume

But Ahmad Zia Siraj, Afghanistan’s spy chief, told the parliament on Monday that “we believe the Taliban are planning to drag the talks (out) until the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan in the month of May”.

“We do not see the Taliban have any intention or will for peace,” he said.

Under the landmark deal signed between the Taliban and Washington in February 2020, the US pledged to pull out all foreign forces from Afghanistan by May 2021.

US special envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad called for increased pace to talks as Washington pushes for more progress in the negotiations as the curtain falls on President Donald Trump’s presidency.

“Both sides must demonstrate they are acting in the best interest of the Afghan people by making real compromises and negotiating an agreement on a political settlement as soon as possible,” he said on Twitter.

Published in Dawn, January 6th, 2021

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